Historic moment - Jason A. Smith

I've lived through a few historic moments in my life.

Each of those moments has helped to shape the way I view the world.

The first such moment I really remember was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in mid-air. I was at home, watching "The Price is Right." It had snowed that day, so I wasn't in school.

I just remember hearing the newsman who, at first, was celebrating the launch of the shuttle. As it caught on fire, and disaster was apparent, the newsman simply said, "My God."

Perhaps the most life-altering moment in history -- for me and many others -- occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. I was driving in my old truck, helping a friend move, when I turned on the radio and heard nothing but news reports at every spot on the dial.

I didn't know what had happened, until I got to my friend's house and she told me.

Even then, I didn't comprehend the full magnitude of what had taken place, until I saw video of the Twin Towers being hit by terrorist-driven planes.

Nothing has been the same since that day, for me and for many other Americans.

Sunday night's announcement of Osama bin Laden's death will forever be etched in the collective memory of the country, as another historic moment in time.

When I first heard the news, it was through my Facebook account. Although I had no reason to doubt the word of the person who posted the information, the journalist in me knew to verify it with other sources before I said anything to anyone.

That didn't take long, of course. Within minutes, news outlets' web sites were triumphantly making their announcements, and my Facebook page was flooded with messages about bin Laden's death.

Ever since that moment, I've been trying to collect my thoughts, in order to respond in the right way -- as a father, as an American and, most importantly, as a Christian.

I confess that I can't help feeling a huge sigh of relief, at the news of bin Laden's death.

While few among us relish the idea of someone dying, I'm breathing a little easier knowing the man who is responsible for the deaths of thousands, will not have an opportunity to increase those totals.

I'm elated to know my little girl, and the rest of my family, are safe from him.

That being said, he is not the only person capable of murderous acts. I have no idea whether anyone will try to avenge bin Laden's death, but I'm not willing to rest on my laurels yet, just in case.

Bin Laden's death, for many, likely brings memories rushing back, of the devastation he caused on that September morning. We can't wipe those memories away, nor should we.

Unlike past historic moments I've mentioned here, which are filled primarily with sadness and anguish, bin Laden's death could help to soothe the sting we felt when the towers fell to the ground.

But, while we're nursing our wounds and beginning to heal, we need to make sure we keep our shields up, so we don't get stung again.

Jason A. Smith covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.