The ACP Advocate Blog

by Bob Doherty

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reflection

I remember Washington the way it was on the day that our nation was attacked. I remember listening to my car radio on the way to work, and hearing that a “small” plane had collided with the Twin Towers in my home city of New York. I remember gathering with my co-workers to watch the event unfold on TV. I remember going to the roof of our office building to watch the smoke rising from the Pentagon. I remember hearing that another hijacked plane was heading to Washington, maybe to the White House, only four blocks from our office, an intended missile that never came to us because we later learned that it was brought down by courageous passengers in rural Pennsylvania.

I remember hearing rumors of more attacks—bombings at the State Department, in Metro subway stations, rumors that were not true, but we didn’t know that then. I remember not knowing what to tell our employees to do—go home, stay in the office until we got further word? Nothing in my training had prepared me for my city being under possible attack. I remember the traffic gridlock as millions tried to flee. I remember the eerily empty streets of DC, many hours after the traffic finally cleared and people hid in their homes.

I remember the helicopters endlessly circling the city. I remember days later, when we were able to return to work, seeing the intersections of the nation’s capital patrolled by tanks and National Guards troops with automatic weapons, something I never expected to see in my life. And I remember a few days later, taking Amtrak to an ACP chapter meeting in Connecticut, looking out the window as we passed Manhattan, and seeing through my tears the smoking, gaping hole where the World Trade Center once stood.

And I remember trying to make sense of the senseless to my young children, age 12, 10 and 8, trying to reassure them that they were safe when in my heart I was never sure we’d ever feel safe again.

Now the man who introduced fear into my children’s lives is gone. I applaud our intelligence officers, our brave Navy Seals, and our presidents, Obama and Bush, who pursued Osama bin Laden with patience and relentlessness. I yearn for the sense of unity that our country had after 9/11, even as I know that we will soon be back to arguing about health care and the budget. Our national unity over the death of bin Laden already is being threatened by a growing debate over whether the intelligence that led to his capture was derived, in part, from “extraordinary interrogation” methods authorized by President Bush but defined as torture by many human rights advocates and repudiated by President Obama. ACP, for its part, is among those that have said that waterboarding and other forms of torture can never be justified.

I don’t know if we are safer today than 48 hours ago, but I feel safer with bin Laden gone. I don’t know if our country will ever be able to square its adherence to liberty and the rule of law with the temptation to use whatever methods are available to protect ourselves, even when they violate the same liberties and rule of law we are trying to protect.

Years from now, I will remember the day that I learned that justice was served with the death of Osama bin Laden. It doesn’t erase the memories of that terrible September when we were under attack, but maybe now the memories of September 11 no longer will rekindle in me the same degree of fear and uncertainty.

Today’s question: What are your reflections on what bin Laden’s passing means for America?

2 Comments :

Blogger Allan said...

The new leader of al Qaeda, following the death of Osama bin Laden, is Ayman al-Zawahiri. It is worth recalling that al-Zawahiri is a physician. It would seem that a physician's commitment to healing would be in conflict with the promotion of violence, but there seems to be something of a tradition of physicians around the world becoming very involved in politics (contrary to the relative political inactivity of most US physicians) and even in espousal of violence.

In addition to al-Zawahiri, a surgeon, one could note that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which specialized in airplane hijackings, was founded by two physicians, George Habash and Wadi Haddad. The one-time foreign minister (and co-founder) of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Zahar, is a surgeon. A group of physicians were involved in a series of bombings in the United Kingdom two years ago. The recent violence in Syria is directed by the country's ruler Bashir al-Assad, an ophthalmologist. And the prototype of this category of physician-activist was probably Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

It might be interesting to speculate whether there is some common strain between the motivation to heal and the motivation toward violent revolution.

May 7, 2011 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Harrison said...

Harry Potter killed Voldemort.

Can we now move on?

Harrison

May 9, 2011 at 2:16 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

About the Author

Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog

Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.

Share/Subscribe

Bookmark and Share

The ACP Advocate Blog

Recognition

The 2009 Medical Blog Awards
Voted Best Health Policy/Ethics Blog 2009

Healthcare Bloggers
10 Healthcare Bloggers We're Thankful For

Blog log

Health Blog
The Wall Street Journal's blog on health and the business of health.

Health Affairs Magazine Blog
The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere.

The Health Care Blog
Everything you always wanted to know about the Health Care system. But were afraid to ask.

MD Whistleblower
Vignettes and commentaries on the medical profession.

The New Health Dialogue Blog
From the New America Foundation.

Kevin MD
Medical Weblog

DB's Medical Rants
Contemplating medicine and the health care system

EGMN Notes From The Road
Bloggers post from medical meetings, press conferences, and policy gatherings from the U.S. and around the world, providing readers with a tasty analysis of the buzz, the people, and the stories that don't get told.

FutureDocs Blog
A blog dedicated to medical education, news, and policy as well as career advising.

Disease Management Care Blog
An ongoing resource for information, insights, peer-review literature and musings from the world of disease management, the medical home, the chronic care model, the patient centered medical home, informatics, pay for performance, primary care, chronic illness and health insurance.

Medical Professionalism Blog
The Medical Professionalism Blog was created by the ABIM Foundation to stimulate conversation and highlight best practices related to professionalism in medicine.

Powered by Blogger

Comment policy & copyright info