My phone rang early this morning with the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. We had gone to bed early the night before and were unaware of what had occurred overnight.
On his way to the Office of Naval Intelligence where he works, my husband called me and told me what had happened. Since then, I’ve seen celebrations that have given me chills, heard interviews that have brought tears to my eyes and have listened to reporter after reporter give their views on what this means for America now.
Like all Americans, I remember that fateful day in September when our world was forever changed. Like all military spouses, I have sat up many nights worrying over the safety of my deployed husband. Like all mothers, I have been concerned over the volatile world my children were growing up in. Osama was the face of all of those fears and concerns.
In the pursuing of this evil man and in the finality of his death, we as Americans, military spouses and parents can’t help but feel a strong sense of pride, vindication and relief. We feel as if we have now done something potentially crippling to the terrorist organization that has taken so much of America’s past, present and future.
Seeing coverage of the midshipmen at the Annapolis Naval Academy cheering together and breaking out in song was, to me, a strong picture from a new generation of leaders. Many of them may not even remember a world where terrorism was not a threat. These young men and women were just children when Osama orchestrated his attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Surely they were too young to fully understand the weight of it all then, but as they grew up in a world focused on defeating terrorism, a fire burned inside of them to lead, protect, inspire and stand for freedom. Last night with great pride they celebrated a great accomplishment of the ranks they will soon join and lead.
New York City was alive with patriotism as the streets were flooded with people celebrating for those who couldn’t. Families of 9/11 victims shed tears of joy as a part of themselves that has remained raw for almost a decade could finally heal.
A great debt of gratitude must be paid to the men and women of our military who for many years have faced unspeakable evil so valiantly. Their focus and sacrifice has paid off. The families of our service members who have endured long deployments, who have welcomed home injured loved ones, who have stood over flag-covered caskets, who have given birth without their husbands, who have attended birthdays, graduations and weddings by themselves and who have surrounded their service members with love and support also deserve special recognition today. Their collective efforts have fueled this success.
Our joy, while long coming and certainly deserved, is also tempered with the realization that our safety is never sure. Evil will seek to squash freedom at every turn and it is the duty of every American to be ever watchful, even in our joy. Our leaders and watch dogs at home and abroad will need extra eyes and ears to remain one step ahead of the threats that surround our great nation. We as military families stand ready.