A time to mourn, and a time to celebrate
I've found the reactions to bin Laden's death to be across the spectrum, and very revealing of the schizophrenic nature of our nation.
On the one hand you have spontaneous celebrations outside The White House, Ground Zero, and near other significant sites related to 9/11.
Fans at sporting events have been shouting "USA! USA! USA!" Last night at the Angels vs. Red Sox game, a soldier in uniform was leading the cheer. When David Ortiz came off the field after scoring from a walk, the uniformed soldier reached out and gave "Big Papi" a patch from a soldier who had lost his life in battle. Later in the game when Papi homered, he stopped by the fan to give him a patented Papi bear hug.
Amidst all of this, I see some among us aghast at the celebrating. They see the whole concept of celebrating the killing of anyone as revolting.
Then we have this timeless photo taken the day Japan surrendered.
Our men and women who came home from the second great war were given a hero's welcome, and seemed to blend back into society with little in the way of issues.
And then there was Vietnam - a war where the operant conditioning of soldiers evolved to its present peak. More soldiers were able to fire at the enemy in this war (> 90%) than in any other. The military mastered the process of deconditioning the built-in propensity of a species not to kill its own kind. And then these soldiers came home one by one to a public indifferent to their sacrifices. Worse yet, protesters met them at the airport and called them baby killers and warmongers. These soldiers suffered in alarming numbers from PTSD, and later committed suicide at a rate unseen in any other conflict.
Somewhere in all of this business of killing and celebrating, there is a right way. And here is my opinion.
First... there cannot be any hesitancy to deliver consequences to the actions of sociopaths. Osama bin Laden was a mass murderer who defiled one of the seven great religions, and went through women like most of us go through laundry. He devoted his life to killing for shock value - all in the name of subjugating the world to his vision of "god." Actions have consequences. There can be no regret at taking the life of a man who vowed to take the lives of others who tried to take him. For all we know, he had an explosive vest on when the Navy Seals accosted him and were not able to convince him to surrender. The "double tap" was a merciful ending for this man. The burial at sea - within 24 hours per the directives of Muslim religion - was more than dignified for a man who ruined the name of that religion.
Celebrate his death? Dance in the street? Maybe this is a bit over the top. This misses the point of the seriousness involved in killing. It is a duty, and it is a necessity of war. But it isn't and never will be "fun." It's not a game.
But while the overly sensitive quote Martin Luther King to us, they cannot and must not get in the way of a proper "welcome home" to the troops and their families who sacrificed to help us keep our freedom. Many are suffering today, and they will need our help. They should be thanked, and they should be treated as heroes. And the misplaced "concern" from those who revile at the process must be called for what it is - a concern that threatens the lives of the thousands who protected our freedoms.
ALL our men and women in the uniformed services deserve our love and support. Let us not hold back. Let's give each and every one of them the "tickertape parade" that they need and deserve.