When I read on May 1 that Osama bin Laden had been killed by members of SEAL Team Six, I said a prayer of thanks. I was satisfied by the news: satisfied that the man who had been a symbol of terrorism and the man behind the deaths of 3000+ on 9/11/2001 had been killed.
My satisfaction, however, was tempered by the sadness I felt as I watched news clips of Americans parading around the White House and on The Mall, waving flags and cheering as if they were at a football game. A friend said "Don't worry, Doug: most of them are college-aged. People do dumb things at that age." But he wasn't accurate; there were many, many "adults" there celebrating, people who should know better. I was in the Army when I was "college-aged." I didn't get the memo that I was supposed to cheer and whoop-and-holler when someone was killed, even an enemy. Celebrate the victory, yes; celebrate the death of the enemy, no - not celebration. Relief, maybe. Parades and cheers, no. Living room warriors get that luxury I suppose.
The question we have to ask ourselves is how are we different from those who cheered in the streets of Gaza after 9/11? When the Palestinians shot AK's into the air and shouted and laughed, we were appalled. Yet now we think it acceptable to cheer and shout at the death of this man, this Osama bin Laden? How can we reconcile such actions with our own values? How in the name of God can we claim to be a Christian nation, a civilized nation, when we CELEBRATE the death of another? This is no better than the mobs that gather outside prisons on execution day, cheering when the switch is thrown.
I understand vengeance. I understand justice. I have no reservations about the death of bin Laden. But I abhor the lessons we are teach our children when we act this way.
For those that think bin Laden's death is the symbol of victory over terrorism, I'm afraid you're wrong. Al Qaeda will not cease to exist because bin Laden is dead. This isn't April 30, 1945, and we've discovered Hitler is dead and Germany will surrender.
Mark Twain once said "I wish no man dead, but I have taken pleasure in reading some obituaries." The truth is, I wished bin Laden dead and I take satisfaction in his death, but not pleasure. The killing was done by brave men who put their lives on the line for us. They are to be applauded. Bin Laden doesn't deserve the recognition.