Five hours ago, President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden. Special Operations carried out in Pakistan ended with a bullet in Bin Laden’s head. Celebrations erupted in the streets of nation, despite the near midnight announcement.
I’m proud of the military members who carried this mission out. I’m proud of my Commander-in-Chief, who even took some flack during the election season over promising to take military action in Pakistan if that’s where terrorists were. I’m proud of the wave of demonstrations and revolutions sweeping the Middle East and northern Africa in the name of democracy. The modern concepts of democratic freedom were defined by our own nation’s Constitution – as ‘sacred’ a document as I’ll ever know.
Raising the American Flag
When I leave my house in a few hours, I will be raising our unit’s flag. Every time I do this is an honor. But today, there is already a tingling buzz in the air. An infectious sense of patriotism is sweeping the nation, and impromptu crowds are waiving the American flag and celebrating the accomplishment.
Part of me wants to be there in formation, just to hear if our Commanding General (or anybody, really) makes a statement. I want to be there standing next to my battle buddies. My entire Army career has been during wartime, as are the careers of the majority of those standing in that formation. Just as civilians are coming out in mass to celebrate, I can’t help but expect that a similar sense of joy will permeate my unit’s morning formation.
On the other hand, I feel grateful for the ‘luck of the draw’ flag detail that I find myself leading this morning. That entire formation, infused with a renewed sense of purpose will be looking up at and saluting that American Flag. Though we all wear that symbol on our shoulders, the big flag we raise ever morning is the dominant focal point of that formation. So many great men have lived and died for that flag and the country it stands for.
Americans are smart. They know that this is a major moral victory, but the long-term effects are unknowable and possibly minimal. Americans are justified to be proud of this moment anyway. In this complicated struggle, there are no clear-cut traditional battles. Therefore the nation has had few tangible victories to rally around. Morale is one of the biggest influences on the outcome of a military struggle, and today we get an overwhelming boost.
Superficiality be damned, let us have this.
Of course I blame radicalized religion for 9/11, and yes of course I realize that the vast majority of religious people are not radicals. Radicalized anything is bad. I serve proudly with religious soldiers, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims – all types. This is because under non-radicalized circumstances, religion has nothing to do with being a Soldier, or being an American, or being a good person.
We do need to keep a watchful eye on any type of radicalization, ideological, political, and obviously religious. The next Bin Laden, or Hasan more than likely will emerge in time. Be it popular uprisings in the Islamic region, or forceful third-party intervention, the problem will be dealt with.
People want freedom. Today we got a symbolic victory, perhaps temporary. But the long-term desire for freedom is an undeniable part of human nature, and it’s comforting to see the expression of this aspect of humanity playing out in the news cycle so frequently.