Thank you, Navy SEALs
I was sound asleep when President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was dead. Then, on Monday, the paper had not arrived by the time I left for work, so I started my day oblivious to the fact that this world was free of that menace. On deck in Waterbury and ready to start the day, I had a quick look at my own email before hall duty called me away from the comings and goings of the free world. There, courtesy of the several news services to which I subscribe, was the news that Osama bin Laden was dead thanks to the Navy SEALs.
My stomach heaved. I thought, some mothers' sons took out this bit of trash on May Day, when the rest of us were out taking in the wonders of spring.
I have two nephews. One is nine, and one is twelve. They are the sweetest, most beautiful boys I know. I try to imagine their growing up to do this kind of thing. To kill to stop killing. To kill to change the direction of--what?--thinking that leads to more killing. What if one of them were behind the gun that took out bin Laden?
I have been thinking about that tonight.
I grew up among men who served in the United States armed forces. Those four years in one branch of the service or another seemed to be a normal, expected stop on the road to adulthood when I was growing up. Serving was not a big deal but a thing a boy did. My dad and his buddies and so many other men in the family had years of military experience behind them as a matter of course. I grew up with a sense of the discipline, the integrity, the doing what is right by the guy next to you, that goes with that. I grew up surrounded by men trained to kill--and die, if need be--for what is right.
This did not cause them to need therapy. Rather, it gave them a sense of loyalty, comraderie, trust, and fun. These were men with too much sense to take life too seriously. Understanding how swiftly life can come to an end, how horrible some situations can be, they knew better than to make of life a soap opera. They didn't, and they are are the finest men around.
Horrible situations that require military intervention have a strange way of simplifying and clarifying things.
For those men with the unsavory task of killing Osama bin Laden, I wish you the pleasures of smelling spring, playing for hours with the family dog, laughing with children, eating good pizza, night swimming, and sleeping in a warm bed made by someone who loves you. I hope you know our gratitude.
To quote our Commander in Chief: "Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."
P.S. I strongly recommend getting behind the over-achiever, not the C-student and his kind.