As I sit here in Prague, the house silent in an eerie sort of way, I am trying to compose my thoughts into something that is worthy enough to match the loyalty, honour, bravery and sheer determination of not only the American military personnel that have served in the Middle East but those of other nations that have supported them. Whether that support came in manpower or just words is not important. What is important is that many lives have been tragically lost in what many call the ‘War against Terrorism’.
I cannot begin to glorify those who gave their lives for not only their country or those who fought and died for a country they may never have visited. Abraham Lincoln phrased it so perfectly when at Gettysburg in November of 1863 he said, “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain”.
I logged in to read news and check emails this morning only to find out that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. At first, I didn’t believe it but then as I read on, I found out that DNA tests confirmed it and the President of the United States, Barak Obama had addressed the nation, informing them of this ‘achievement’ by saying, “After a firefight, US forces killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body”.
While part of me wants to cheer, part of me agrees with Harry Waizer, a survivor of 9/11 who aptly put it in these words, “I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.” I fail to see how the death of the man who topped the US most wanted list for so long will put an end to the ‘War against Terrorism’. This ‘war’ was declared, in my opinion, not only out of vengeance but out of fear. It was given the breath of life because ‘taking a life for a life’ empowered and therefore was justified.
But as in all wars, the justification and empowering came at a high price. To all those who died defending what their governments believed, I salute you and pay tribute not only as an American, but as a military veteran. To those who will return home to their families and friends, who will be able to trundle off the aircraft and whether figuratively or literally kiss the ground, who will open arms and wrap them around wives or parents or a child, seen for the first time, I also salute you.
But I believe, have believed for a while now that it is time to end this war … to bring the troops home from this Middle Eastern battlefield. It is time to find hope in peace, to rebuild the nations, to teach rather than retaliate.