The Death of bin Laden and Thoughts from 9/11: What is Music's Role?

Last night came the historic news that Osama bin Laden was dead.  Finally.  This morning while scrolling through my emails, I came across one encouraging the ChicagoNow bloggers to share personal experiences relating to this.  My immediate reaction was that it would be a non-blogging day for Music Mom.  After all, music seems fairly trivial on a day such as this, and I really don't have all that much in the way of relevant personal experiences to share: I don't know anyone who has fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor did I know anyone directly impacted by the 9/11 events.  Fortunately, that attitude lasted about five minutes before I realized how ridiculous it was.


Everyone has their stories about where they were when they heard about the World Trade Center tragedy.  I happened to be at work downtown.  A coworker shared the news, after which everyone quickly turned their computers to news sources.  Before long, information suggesting that the Sears Tower was a potential target surfaced.  From my window, I had a clear shot of the Sears Tower since my building is only two blocks away.  We were quickly dismissed and sent home.

Because I work in the financial industry, people in my field are in constant communication with people in New York.  While on the elevator on my way out, I heard a story of a person who had been on the phone with someone who worked in the World Trade Center when the line went dead.  Other similar anecdotal stories could be heard everywhere that morning.

The mood in the Loop that morning is hard to describe.  There was an air of panic but nothing palpable to attribute it to since Chicago was mercifully spared the violence that hit the east coast.  Add to that the fact that the weather that day was gorgeous- mild and perfectly sunny.  For some reason, it struck me as impossible that something so dark could happen on such a beautiful day. 

The train home was packed with others fleeing the downtown area, which was believed to be more at risk than other areas.  Once home, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up my kindergartner from school.  When I arrived to retrieve him, the kids were playing outside, oblivious to the fact that the world was forever different than it had been when they left for school hours earlier.  The only strange thing to my son was that Mom was picking up from school when she should have been at work.  Later in the day, I remember watching news coverage of the events, struggling with how much to let my kids be exposed to, the oldest being in third grade at the time.

I'm sure everyone has detailed memories of September 11, 2001, as I do, but I'm sure there are also a lot of people who can't say that their lives have really changed all that much since that day- and that's the point.  It's very easy for those of us who live in nice suburban houses to forget how much it costs.  The freedom we continue to enjoy is because of all those who fight to keep it that way and those who lead our country, tasked with making the difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions.  We're so accustomed to the liberty that we often forget to appreciate it.

Many musicians expressed their feelings about 9/11 in songs.  My favorite is Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising".  As you may know, Springsteen has long been outspoken about his political views, and he is also a lifelong Jersey boy with a view of the NYC skyline.  Bruce's take on it all was that we would band together and overcome the evil, coming back even stronger ("come on up for the rising").  To me, it is a realization that everyone plays a part in making our country strong and rising above the evil, and no one's experience is too trivial.  He sings from the heart and gives a voice to the thoughts of millions of people.

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