Monday, May 02, 2011

my thoughts on Usama's death

Last night, Usama bin Laden was reported killed. I was on my couch when I recieved a text message, watching TV with Jeremy. I'm sure I will not forget that in the future. It's one of those moments that I'll remember as long as I remember the towers falling.

This morning, a saw a message that I will share here, since my reaction to the facebook post is what is prompting this post. The exchange is paraphrased, since it's been deleted:

friend: Pretty sure it's a conspiracy to get Obama re-elected. Just wondering...

Me: Are you serious?

Her: yes.

Me: For this to be a conspiracy is preposterous. It would require lies of omission or commission from SEAL Team 6, the Sec of Defense, Secretary Clinton, GEN Petreaus and the President, at the least. Sometimes not everything is political, even when there are political reprecussions.

Her: Don’t take this so seriously.

Me: When I have friends in Arlington, I will always take these things seriously. (also, in my defense, I gave you the opportunity to say, “I was just kidding”.)

This was followed by an email asking simply, “What does what I posted have to do with your friends in Arlington?”

The response she is getting is longer than expected, but flows from my thoughts last night.
As I sat, watching the news, I felt a catharsis. I thought about all the moments between then (9/11) and now, and what I was feeling, seeing and thinking. The events between then and now seem, in hindsight, to flow naturally, and of course there were plenty of decision points that led us to where we are today and any of them could have changed the outcome. But, here they are, as I remember them:
  1. 1. 9/11- I was just twenty-one years old. I was on my way from my barracks room in DLI to the DFAC and walked past a TV and saw the Pentagon on fire. I thought, “Someone crashed into the Pentagon? Man, that sucks…” by the time I got to the DFAC, people were crying, standing in the aisles unable to eat and the reality hit us—we were under attack. We were studying Arabic and had a test that day on the dual form. We pushed the test back a day, and all of us tried quickly to lean new vocabulary. What was the Arabic word for “terrorist” “crash” “demolish”?

  2. Bush declares we will go to Afghanistan- His speech on TV is one I won’t forget. I watched it in the dayroom with friends, and we knew that he was talking about us—about our future—not something abstract. We, my friends and I, were sure we were going to Afghanistan.

  3. Graduation Leave—The week I graduated West Point, I looked around and realized that it wasn’t a question of “if” but of “who” we would lose in the GWOT. I didn’t know who, but knew that one or more of my classmates would never grasp my shoulder or share a laugh again.

These aren’t the only points in the arc from there to now, nor is “now” the final point. But how do my friends who have given their lives have anything to do with someone calling Usama’s killing a hoax?? Because what they, and we, have been fighting for lasting the better part of a decade happened, partially, yesterday. To some degree, they are vindicated. When we went into Afghanistan, it was for two aims. The first was to deny the enemy sanctuary in safe havens by toppling the Taliban, and the second was to find, kill or capture Usama bin Laden. His death is the rightful vengeance for the violence that happened on 9/11. When I think about my friends, and ask myself, “why” I can now say that, to some degree, Justice was served. Afghanistan may never be a stable nation, Iraq may not be a thriving democracy and the Taliban may not be vanquished—but Usama, the man who has spread for years the myth of a clash of cultures, the man whose ideology and hate started directly or otherwise two wars that have put more of my friends in the dirt than I care to think about, is dead.

To hear, or read, that people think this is an elaborate hoax, involving the President of the United States, from whom we take our orders, verges on offensive to me. To be told not to “take this seriously” when “this”—the search for Americas most wanted—has been going on for the better part of a decade and has adversely affected the lives of almost every single one of my friends, when millions of years of our lives have been wasted sitting in the dirt and reading intelligence reports and patrolling streets and questioning locals, when thousands upon thousands of Americans have lost their lives in its pursuit—that is when I become offended. What happened last night didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened in a War. It happened in a War that people are fighting, currently. It happened because a politician made the right decision, because service members trained correctly, because diplomats set the stage for the right sharing of intelligence, and it happened because people were willing to sacrifice themselves in pursuit of the goal of killing Usama bin Laden.

That is how my friends and their sacrifice relates to implying that this death is an elaborate election ploy.

(I apologize if this was rambling. Work is hectic and I wrote it in my off minutes here and there over the course of a few hours)


Anonymous katy said...

I like a good Ramble...

8:52 AM  

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