The date was May 1, 2011. A day that will live on in American lore.
#OTD In 2011, President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden during a U.S. commando operation (because of the time difference, it was early May 2 in Pakistan, where the al-Qaida leader met his end). https://t.co/hl6MXx9QNB pic.twitter.com/I67jDptRRj
— AP Archive (@AP_Archive) May 1, 2018
It had been five months since the new year had arrived, and just a month into the baseball season for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. That memorable evening, the clubs were set to meet on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball for the rubber game of their three-game series. During the game though, a significant event in the history of the United States was unfolding. Not too long after people in Citizens Bank Park got word of what had happened, the Mets and Phillies game took a backseat to the entire country rejoicing over the conclusion of the ten-year manhunt and the death of the terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.
Even though it was ten years later, the pain and heartbreak of September 11, 2001, still sat in the hearts of Americans. That day rocked the core of the fabric of the United States, and everything each American holds near and dear. After 9/11, there was no other option but for the U.S. to go to war to stop the man responsible for the attacks, Osama Bin Laden. And his group, known as Al Qaeda.
The U.S. military would end up fighting the war on terrorism (some believe it still continues to go on to this day) until the end of the decade, making huge strides over that time in Al Qaeda run territories — Afghanistan and Iraq.
But, even as the United States continued to end the war on terrorism, one objective still remained: Finding Osama Bin Laden and making him pay for his sins and all the heartache he brought the country that fateful day in 2001. The U.S. had come close several years in the past to finding Bin Laden, but could never seal the deal (pardon the pun). While that fateful May day shifted to the evening, the Mets and Phillies took to the field as the last sporting event scheduled that day. 7,000 miles away, DEVGRU, also known as SEAL Team 6, in Blackhawk helicopters ascended upon Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound under to carry out Operation Neptune Spear.
A short time after entering the compound, the SEALs confronted Bin Laden on the third floor and shot him twice. SEAL Rob O’Neill delivered the kill shot and, the shot to be heard around the United States.
News began to leak that Bin Laden was dead, and it spread like wildfire around the ballpark in the top of the ninth inning. Fans were refreshing their phones to see if what had thought to be impossible, had finally become a reality. Then, thunderous chants of “USA” rained down from the crowd.
At 11:35 P.M. Eastern Time, President Barack Obama addressed the country to confirm that in fact, Osama Bin Laden had been killed.
The Mets and Phillies would go into extra innings that night, with the Mets coming away from victorious 2-1. But all anyone could remember was on that evening, was America and its citizens had finally won. The country could finally be at peace, knowing that the war on terrorism had officially come to an end.
Today marks the seven-year anniversary of that bone-chilling night. But it feels like just yesterday, that myself and many others around the USA were watching a baseball game between two teams that turned in to an unforgettable event in this country’s fabled history. Even the players on the field soon realized they were a part of something special going on, as described in the video below.
Seven years later, the world and the United States are a different place. But ask any American about that moment, and they’ll tell you where they were, what they were doing, who they were with, and their reaction to what was a landmark moment in the 242-year history of this land. That’s how much May 1, 2011 means to Americans.
Just for a moment, baseball became secondary, and Patriotism became the rallying cry.