A baseball fan in Philadelphia holds up his smart phone with the news of bin Laden's death. Screen shot from ESPN.
So it was a commercial during the Mets-Phillies game on 810. I punched the button to 980, to see what the Sunday national host, Bill Cunningham, was talking about there. I hear him ask his broadcast engineer if he should take a break now, as the POTUS could be speaking at any time. I look at the clock--9:20 p.m. What could the president want to talk about on a Sunday night? Host Cunningham wondered too--what couldn't wait until Monday morning? By 9:45 p.m. KMBZ had switched over to the ABC Radio News network. At 10:35 p.m. President Obama told the nation what had been rumored for about an hour and a half: Osama bin Laden, terrorist leader and mastermind, had been killed by a Special Operations team at a home in Pakistan.
I liked Obama's speech. It was simple and straightforward. I also liked something in it I had rarely heard from President Obama. A quiet yet firm acknowledgement that America can do, in this case, our military and CIA can and did do something that needed to be done and that was finding and getting this man who had fomented so much hatred and violence and had cost so many lives all over the world.
As the news trickled out, crowds began to gather in Washington and New York particularly. They chanted and held signs and flags and celebrated. They chanted "USA! USA!" at the Mets-Phillies game. They sang the "Na Na Good Bye" song outside the White House. I have to say I didn't know what to think of that. I had the thought that we Americans don't celebrate like that except when our sports teams win. Then I had the thought that we haven't had much to celebrate in this arena since World War II. When was the last time we "won" something as far as foreign policy was concerned--either by warfare or other means?
WW II was over when the sailor kissed the nurse in Times Square. The war on terror is not over. In fact, we might find ourselves the subject of revenge. Some felt we should have spared bin Laden's life. I think he was not willing to spare his own life. I suspect he threw himself at our troop when he realized there was no escape. He would not be taken alive. I am glad that even with all his and his cohorts' thrashing around, there were no American lives lost.
Has justice been served as many newspaper headlines implied this morning? I think that bin Laden's death can help bring some comfort and closure to the events of 9/11. Just to know that he cannot harm anyone directly or by earthly actions any more is a good thing. He can and will be used as a motivational tool, but it is not like fanatics who subscribe to bin Laden's ideas can't gin up their evil motivations without his demise as inspiration.
I hear those who lament the further loss of life and the specter of endless cycles of revenge. I hear those who question the use of violence as a way to attempt to solve problems and settle conflict. As a Christian I lament the killing of any person. Yet I do have a sense of release, that the main force that stood behind and supported the 9/11 attacks is no longer drawing breath in on earth and is now in the hands of God. And now, I await what happens next.