My president gave me Bin Laden for my Birthday

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September 11, 2011 by danolaurel

On May 1st, 2011 I was out to dinner with my lady celebrating my 30th birthday.  We went to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant and were planning on going out dancing afterwards.

We wanted to keep it simple because I was never one to make a big deal out of my birthdays, but like prom, my family said something memorable should happen on that day.

I remember a large group of friends eating at the table in the corner in front of the television that the restaurant has.  I wasn’t looking at the tv because the group of people at the table were being really loud and I was focused on my bowl of pho. Have you ever eaten that stuff?  It’s pretty messy and the lady and I got some chilled sake.

I remember hearing gasps in the corner when I decided to turn my head in the direction of the obnoxious table. I glanced at the television just briefly enough to catch the scroll on the bottom of the screen that read something to the extent of: ‘ Reports are coming in stating that Osama Bin Laden has been assassinated’.

Up until that moment I had been responding to friends posting birthday wishes on my facebook page.  No, no, my girlfriend was getting plenty of attention too.  After the announcement my news feed was flooded with friends posting that same information I just saw on the television.

Happy 30th birthday to me.

It’s hard to believe that this was 10 years in the making.

I remember waking up on this particular Tuesday morning to my buddy getting up going back to San Antonio.  Tuesday were busy days for me at the time because I was going to Southwest Texas State and had a full day of class.

I turned on the television to listen to the news while getting ready for class but didn’t immediately notice what was on the screen until I came out of the bathroom. Walking back into my room I remember seeing the image of one of the twin towers smoking at one of its sides.

Disbelief sank in as I sat on the foot of my bed not knowing, like most people that morning, what was going on.  The eerie feeling continued when I finally made it to campus and tv’s were set up all over the common areas as students and faculty that have been in class were all beginning to realize what was going on.

It was the feeling of anxiety, confusion, panic, excitement, everything in one mass eruption of emotions.

Standing there watching the footage being replayed over and over again.  The second building getting slammed by an airplane.  Both buildings finally crumbling down. People running in the streets painted grey by the soot.  Sirens, lights , flashing through the smoke, sparkles of hope among the hopeless.  Images of the Flag represent more than the city of New York, but later the Pentagon, and a lonely field where people were helpless in the air.


The memories of what took place are forever etched in my mind.  Our flag almost becoming a symbol larger than itself.  One mayor lifting the spirits of an entire nation. And paying respect to all of the lives that were lost in the building, or trying to save the lives of a stranger.

10 years later we must remember these images of hope and put aside the politics for a moment.  Remember the roots of this great nation and rise up together.  It’s not democrat, republican, socialist, but togetherness that brought us through one of our darkest times as a nation.

Oh… and on that November 4th, 2001 I sat back on the edge of my bed and saw Luis Gonzalez hit a blooper off of the greatest post-season closer in history to take his Arizona Diamonbacks to win the World Series.  I knew, for at least a moment, that we were going to be ok.



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