Unless you were in a complete electronic blackout last night, you heard the news that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Forces sometime last week. It spread like wildfire across the ether...from facebook to gaming sites to the nightly news. The president made a live speech confirming the news reports...it was everywhere...
As the rumor spread, the news cameras showed us jubilant crowds first in front of the White House and later in Times Square. I was dismayed. I went to bed last night wondering what I would awaken to. It came as no surprise, then, to see a huge photo of the crowd at the White House accompanying the headline on the front page of our local newspaper. I was pleased to read that the crowds really never gained momentum. The high-fives, the celebrations of a job finally done, stayed private. I think that is how they should be.
Over the years we have seen exultant mobs burning the U.S. Flag, dancing jubilantly at the news of the death of U.S. Soldiers, burning pictures and other representations of our president in effigy and it has sickened me. I don't want us to be those people...I think we are better than that.
Am I glad that our Special Forces carried out their mission? Absolutely. Do I agree with our president who said this confirms that the U.S. will do what it takes to protect this nation and it's citizens? Again, absolutely. Osama bin Laden was the head of a group that has been targeting America and it's allies for 20 years...he was called a terrorist mastermind and he was a threat that needed to be removed. After almost ten years, it finally was. Our military did the job with no more loss of life on our side.
I guess I just don't see how we can be "happy" about this. It doesn't undo the World Trade Center, it doesn't undo the USS Cole, or any of the other things he instigated with such devastating effectiveness. Osama bin Laden brought terrorism to us in a way his death won't eliminate. Sleeper cells, suitcase bombs, bio-terrorism, and alert levels have all become terms we're familiar with because of his concerted efforts. He was so successful that he changed the landscape of our lives forever. My children are growing up in an America that is completely different from the one I grew up in. His death hasn't changed that...so, no, I guess I can't say I'm happy.
To our Special Forces, I say "Job well done" and to the rest of us, I say the job has just begun.