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Celebrate lives of those who perished on 9/11

May 3, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.

Editor, the Advocate:

In the wake of the news that Osama bin Laden is now dead, I am reminded of the fact that we can (and should) use every occurrence as a learning opportunity. While I certainly can understand the rejoicing in this terrible man's death, I choose to go in another direction with my elation.

Several years ago, I was involved in a very extensive project that brought me many new co-workers and friends. Those of us who took part in this endeavor became very close to one another. One night, I received an unexpected call. A member of our team had met an untimely death at the age of 52. Still trying to fully grasp the gravity of the situation several days later at my good friend's funeral, I asked another member of my work family how we would deal with the tragic loss. This man had my deepest respect and admiration although I did not completely know why until he answered me. He replied, "We will spend the next several hours mourning Steve's death, and the rest of our lives celebrating his life."

I cannot say with absolute confidence that another statement has made the impact on me that one did.

As a result, I pray that the American people can find it in themselves to celebrate the lives of the 9/11 victims, the first responders who have met their eternity as a result of that fateful day, the families whose grief we hopefully will never know, and the many soldiers who have lost their lives and continue to risk their lives in the pursuit of justice. My sincere desire is that we all may have the fortitude and focus to redirect anger and retribution into the grandest of celebrations.

Under no circumstances do I pretend to possess the ability or authority to tell those most affected by the tragedy of 9/11 how to react to the death of bin Laden, but I do wish for them the peace that enveloped me as my good friend showered his thoughtful suggestion upon me several years ago. May God bless America.

Matthew J. Ocker, Victoria



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