Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saint Patrick de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Truth be told, 'tis but one of the endless number of "holidays" that appear on the calendar to which I pay little heed and with which I have zero interaction.  I suppose today is a day that young hipsters everywhere will celebrate by drinking Mexican beer - primarily Corona.  A question for you before you spend your hard-earned money on one:  why?  For those of you born with with a genetic handicap when it comes to beer (i.e. you are neither German nor Irish) any beer that recommends you insert a wedge of lime into it to make its taste palatable is not worth drinking.  Eager for proof?  Go into any Irish pub anywhere, order a pint of Guinness and ask the barkeep to squeeze a bit of fruit into it for you.  Before doing this, make sure that you have located yourself at the bar on a stool from which the nearest exit is easily accessible and that you have entered the bar wearing your most reliable pair of running shoes.  In this setting, your ability to make a clean getaway may well mark the difference between you living and dying...or at the very least getting struck in the face by a Guinness-soaked lime wedge or orange slice.

On the subject of living and dying, much has been written since our Commander-in-Chief announced to the world on Sunday night that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by a Navy Seal team, about the propriety of many people's reaction to the news.  Permit me an aside right here if you would.  Memo to Mr. Trump:  When you choose to joust publicly over stupid sh*t with the President of the United States, be prepared for him to do something to you in return......such as break one of the biggest stories of the past decade during your prime-time network television show.  Who was fired on Celebrity Apprentice on Sunday night?  Who the hell cares.

I am fortunate in that while the events of 09/11 touched my life as they did everyone's life, I did not suffer any personal loss that day.  There was one man who lived here 'NTSG where Margaret and I live who died that morning.  Thomas Gorman was a Port Authority Police Officer.  As I understand it, he had completed his shift and was heading home when the Towers were hit and he did what countless other first responders did:  he headed towards danger as fast as he could in order to help and save other.  I know he was married and a father but I knew him not and I know neither his widow nor his kids. 

Also, I know that my high school Alma mater suffered at least one loss that day.  Thomas Glasser worked in finance at the World Trade Center and was at his office when the Towers were hit.  I remember being a 5th or 6th grader at W-H when Tom Glasser graduated.  I remember him being a phenomenal cross-country and track athlete.  Other than knowing those things about him, I knew him not at all. 

Much of what happens in the world day-to-day is fraught with symbolism.  I have read and have heard "experts" discuss how unlikely it is that Bin Laden's death will spell the end of his terror network.  Sadly, I have no doubt that they are right.  As mentioned in this space the other morning, life would be easy for all of us if all of the evil in the world was contained in one man.  Too bad it is not.  But Bin Laden's death, when placed in a "be captured or be killed" situation by U.S. troops, nevertheless has great symbolic value.  Respectfully that is an inarguable point. 

I choose not to speak to or about the criticism that has been leveled in some circles against those who have treated the news as a cause for celebration.  First, with regard to the reactions - whatever they may be - of anyone and everyone who had a loved one murdered by this coward and his cohorts that day, you owe no explanation to me or to the rest of the world for whatever your reaction is.  Your loss is yours alone.  Others may empathize with you and sympathize with you but we cannot put ourselves in your shoes.  Death of a loved one is hard to deal with for many of us and when that loved one's death comes not via accident or inadvertence but rather through the willful and deliberately violent actions of another, I presume it makes it all the more hard to comprehend.  One mourns however one chooses to mourn - and that includes how one reacts to the news that authorities, while in the process of apprehending the person who murdered your loved one, killed that individual. 

Second, with regard to the reactions of the rest of us, I think one's reaction to such news is a wholly personal thing.  If 50,000 people at a baseball game want to arise spontaneously and chant "U-S-A!  U-S-A!" upon hearing the news, then no objection shall be voiced from this corner.  If one's reaction to the news is one of quiet contemplation, then that is also wholly appropriate.   What is not appropriate is to hop upon one's soapbox and pretend to tell the rest of the world how all of us should react and what our behavior should be, both privately and publicly.  Let there be no confusion about it.  The man killed by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan - where Jame Caan is scheduled to begin working on the long-awaited sequel any day now - was not a freedom fighter.  He was a mass murderer.  He was a coward.  His life was not spent engaged in the doing of good deeds so do not - upon him getting his just desserts - pretend to start some type of half-assed beatification  process for him.  Death did not redeem him.  He is simply dead.  And deservedly so.

Driving home from the office Tuesday night I was thinking about all that has been written and spoken in the several days since our Big O brought the house down on the bad guy's big O, and my thoughts turned to the raw, heartfelt, anguished words of Mike Moran of the F.D.N.Y., which he spoke at the Concert for New York City on October 20, 2001.  Moran's brother was one of the 343 members of the F.D.N.Y. who died on September 11th.  Standing before a jam-packed Madison Square Garden, Moran extended Bin Laden an invitation.  I hope that somewhere - wherever he is - Mike Moran has a little more peace.  For the promise he made to Mr. Bin Laden on October 20, 2001 was as true on May 1, 2011 as it was when he uttered it.  Those who were lost were not forgotten.  Not for one minute.  Not ever. 

If you are out celebrating Cinco de Mayo today, eschew the kiddie beer.  Have a Guinness.  Raise a glass to Irish royalty. 


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