Like many of us, I remember 9/11 vividly. Where I was, what I was doing … and how I felt. I remember frantically calling my family and friends in New York trying to make sure that everyone was okay. I remember breaking down crying to my mother on the phone in fear that many of our loved ones we either hurt or dead. Shortly thereafter, I can remember sitting in a meeting with members from my National Guard unit and the anger and rage I felt inside of me. And how much I wanted to get back at those who did this to our country and our cities.
I was given the opportunity to deploy to Iraq in 2005-2006 to serve my country. It was something that I did proudly. As I sit in Baghdad again, thousands of miles away from home, I was awoken to the news this morning that Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs. I can’t help but be proud. I feel a sense of relief. I feel a sense of accomplishment, not only for my individual efforts in the war on terror, but EVERYONE in uniform’s efforts. There were only a select few who were on the raid that killed the terrorist mastermind, but we all played a part in it. It was a cumulative effort of all of our efforts over the last decade. The military is the ultimate example of a “team” and teamwork led us to this day.
My initial reaction to Bin Laden’s death: I am glad that it was GROUND forces that got him and not an air strike. Here’s why: In an air strike, you have no knowledge that something is going wrong. Bomb hits, you’re dead. When those brave Navy SEALS helicoptered in and kicked thru the door of that compound, bin Laden felt that intense fear that all those INNOCENT Americans felt on 9/11. Those brave souls on those planes and the people in the World Trade Centers and Pentagon. That’s vindication for America and its citizens.
The other great joy that I felt was watching the reaction of the American people on television. It was so touching seeing hundreds of people wearing red, white and blue gathering at Ground Zero, Times Square as well at the White House. I am so proud of the citizens for always coming together when it matters the most and the fact that the outpouring to this event was of that nature, means that people STILL care. In all the cycnicism of America, politics, government and the like, the emotional outpouring of support touched my soul and made me feel a little better about being so far away from the things that I cherish the most.