Op-Ed: Why bin Laden's death is important
Also published in the San Antonio Express-News
On Sunday, in what officials have described as a "surgical raid," a U.S. tactical team killed Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan.
Justice was finally served to the long-hunted al-Qaeda leader and chief architect of the deadly attack on our soil that took place on Sept. 11, 2001. Over the next days and weeks, we will be inundated with news stories and images that remind us of 9/11 and the prolonged military engagements that ensued.
While this is an important event for our country, we must pause and reflect on why his death is important. We must not let ourselves become consumed with the negative emotions that often are associated with figures like bin Laden.
What happened Sunday is not just about "eliminating the enemy." It is about honoring the service men and women who put their lives on the line every day and fight for the very best that the United States represents. It is about recognizing the tremendous sacrifice that countless men and women make every day as they accept the challenge and don our nation's uniform.
This is a seminal moment for the United States. It is a testament to the resolve, dedication, and selflessness of our fighting forces, who have for nearly a full decade been engaged in a war against terrorism. These brave men and women have been across the world, enduring challenges and overcoming obstacles that those of us not directly involved can only imagine.
This event is important because it is the culmination of our military members' bravery and fortitude, and it shows to the world that our American ideals have been successfully defended.
To the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, I want to extend my deepest appreciation and respect. As chair of the State Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, and as an American, I would like to use this occasion to say: Thank you.
Thank you to those of you who are fighting, those of you who have returned home, and those of you who have sustained serious injuries because of your service. As for the sacred memories of the nearly 6,000 American service members—including 512 Texans—who have given their lives in defense of our nation and in pursuit of its enemies during the Global War on Terror, there are simply no words to effectively and fully encompass the gratitude of this country and its citizens.
Your bravery will be eternally remembered. And to the families of these brave men and women service members, thank you as well. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed. It takes immense courage to be a military spouse and remain strong through the prolonged absences associated with deployment, frequent relocations, and physical separation from family and friends. But it is your strength on which the soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, and coast guards build their hopes of returning safe and sound. We are all forever in your debt.
President Obama said it best during his address to the nation: "We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to families who have lost loved ones to al-Qaeda's terror: Justice has been done."
At this deeply gratifying juncture in history, let us reflect on the appropriateness of this act of justice, and on the men and women of our military who have made it possible.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, A 21-year veteran of the Texas Legislature representing District 26, including a large portion of San Antonio and Bexar County, is chair of the Texas Senate's Veteran Affairs and Military Installation's Committee.