Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Young Writers Weigh-In On Killing Osama Bin Laden

When the news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, there was a small sector of U.S. society that likely didn't know exactly what to make of the news. The fact there was jubilation, cheering in the streets and around the country for the death of a single man only had meaning to people of a certain age. After all, the attack on the World Trade Center happened a decade ago. Unless you are in junior high school or after, you hadn't even been born. And even for those kids it happened when they were still quite young.
So, what did it mean for them? What do they think of it all? How are they taking the news?

To answer these questions, of course, writers to the rescue.

Vermont based Young Writers Project, posted a list of questions to students in grades K-12 asking them how they felt. Assuming the kids were able to put pen to paper and form coherent sentences, they supplied the answers.
For many young people, the killing of Osama bin Laden marked the end to a cycles of events that began when they were very young, or even before they were born. Comment & Debate presents excerpts from pieces written by students involved with the Young Writers Project and submitted to the project website curated by Geoff Gevalt, executive director and editor of the project. For the full posting of each of these pieces, go to http://youngwritersproject.org/taxonomy/term/19939.The writers -- identified by their usernames for the Young Writers Project website -- responded to the prompt: What are your reactions to this news? How did you feel about news coverage of celebrations at ball games, in the streets, in front of the White House? How did you feel? Does this mean anything to you? Why or why not? Does it affect you? How/when did you find out? What does it mean for the U.S.?

It is not too late to contribute to this project. If you know a student, or if you ARE a student, you can send your submissions here.
I cannot say enough good things about this project. It was smart, it was timely and it gives students, children, a voice. They are sentient beings, after all, and for better or worse they share this world and these times with us. Knowing how they feel, how they perceive what is happening and what has happened has a lot of bearing on the future they will build for us all as they grow up.
Here are a few of my favorite submissions:

Osama bin Laden's death

Osama bin Laden was hated by many people, but a role model for others. The news that he was killed was unexpected. I never thought that anyone would be able to find him, let alone be able to get close enough to shoot him. I'm very happy that he was killed. Now he can't do any more harm to the United States. Someone told me that people chanted "USA" in front of the White House all night long. I personally think that's a little crazy, but I do understand why people are happy and celebrating.
Submitted by Evelyn.C

The Death of Osama bin Laden

I recently found out that the leader of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, has died. My reaction to his death is kind of neutral. It is great that people found a man that caused so many deaths in our nation's history, but I feel that it is wrong to celebrate over someone's death. I don't think that it is right to fly with helicopters to a compound in another country and kill someone in a firefight. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have killed him, but something just doesn't feel right about having parties because someone died.
Submitted by muffins123 

No longer beautiful (no longer alive)

She asks me if I've been on the Internet yet today, asks me if it's been working. I say no, I haven't checked. That's the truth.

I secretly hope that it's not working. I secretly hope that cyberspace has overflowed with life that it will never work again. I secretly hope that all the news reporters got sick and no one was around to care. I secretly hope I could say yes, yes I've been online and yes, I've heard the news. I already know what happened, so please don't tell me again. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear what people have to say.
Submitted by Magzdoodle

An apology to a murderer and family

It is OK, right?
That they can shoot down a man
Who shot down our men
Who shot down all men
That are sleeping
In beds in a quiet America
That never feels a thing.
I wonder if the blood on the compound walls
Is a shrine?
Do you have a family, my dear?
Or did they disown you for wanting those virgins
Wrapped in Muslim heaven.
My little American head doesn't know what that is called.
Submitted by rebecca_v

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