Friday, May 6, 2011

A bell finally rings for death - and life

A dozen years ago, Ken and Estela Ross found a bell at a flea market while vacationing near Washington, D.C.

Actually, it was Ken who found the bell, which was iron and about a foot tall. Estela wasn’t so sure about it. But her husband had long wanted to hang one from their west Charlotte house, so home the bell came, where it sat in storage until Sept. 11, 2001.

After the World Trade Center buildings fell, Ken found the bell and painted it red, white and blue. He fabricated a bracket and hung the bell on the back left corner of their house. Ken wasn’t an overtly patriotic man, but the country swelled with such sentiment then, and Ken told Estela that they wouldn’t ring the bell until Osama bin Laden had been captured.

And so the bell had been silent when Ken died of organ failure in 2003.

Last Sunday evening, Estela went to bed before President Barack Obama told a nationwide television audience that U.S. special operations forces had killed bin Laden in Pakistan. She is remarried now, and her husband, Ralph Breckle, woke up Monday and went out front to get the paper. He told Estela the news.

The bell, she thought.

Ralph had thought of it, too, so he went outside and oiled the joints, then attached a rope to the handle and gave it a test tug. At first, it didn’t want to move, but as he worked with it, the bell remembered what it was here for, and Ralph was ready.

There’s been some discussion this week about how we should acknowledge the death of Osama. We’ve celebrated, both publicly and privately, then wondered if a few of those celebrations were too much. Some have talked about finding closure by seeing photos of the dead terrorist, and some have recoiled at the thought of needing that.

What should you do when you’ve killed your greatest enemy?

Maybe this is about right:

About 2:30 on Monday afternoon, Estela came outside, and Ralph took a picture of the bell – and Estela with it. He said a prayer for all the souls that were set free when the Twin Towers fell.
He asked that we might be able to put aside the past and begin a new era of peace and understanding. He rang the bell.

Estela cried – for those souls and the one she misses. Then she told Ralph his prayer was good, and she got ready to go to work.


Anonymous said...

Got any valid proof he's dead?