On the Death of A Man

I shared this as a note on Facebook this morning:

Last night my friend Regina sent me a text message, "Get on the computer.  Fox News says Bin Laden is dead."   She knew we are currently without a television and she wanted me to witness this historic event.   I must say I was overwhelmed with pride and even happiness for the U.S. intelligence services and our special forces.   They have labored for nearly a decade, following every scrap of information.   They have pursued this man with diligence and sacrifice, spending countless hours, days, months away from their families without being able to share with them any details of their jobs.    They have put themselves in harm's way on a daily basis and we will never know the number of or the names of the men and women who were killed and injured while on the trail of this mastermind of mass murder.

The feelings that overwhelm me are identical to those which take hold of me on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day.   At no point on those two holidays do I become blood-thirsty.   At no point does the thought of a dead Hitler even enter into my mind.   At no point do I rejoice over any deaths.   What is central to my thoughts though are bodies of beautiful young men washed upon the shores after the D-Day invasion.   And of faithful, moral men who never rested well another night of their lives because of the hard but necessary decisions they were forced to make for the safety of their troops and the citizens of their country.   Could I make those same decisions or carry out those same "messy" and "uncomfortable" decisions or tasks?   Never.   But I will be forever grateful for those brave, sacrificing men who did.

So, today, I am not rejoicing over the death of a man.   A man created in the image and likeness of God.   A man who freely chose to lead and finance a war against the West.   A war which made absolutely no distinction between civilian and military targets and victims.   I proudly congratulate the brave men and women of the CIA and special forces, with names never-to-be-known who spent over a decade faithfully executing their mission, sometimes in the face of criticism and ridicule for the length of that mission.  A mission executed with so much care and thought that no civilians were killed.

I sit freely at my computer, half a mile from my parish where I may freely worship my loving and just God and I type this note in English, not German, because freedom is, as they saying goes, not free.   It was paid at a high cost.   And it was not pretty or simple.  Yes, pray for bin Laden.  Yes, pray for mercy.   Yes, pray for the conversion of those who seek to harm others.   But do not deny the brave men and women who bought your freedoms their congratulations or your gratitude.   One can do so without celebrating the death of a man.


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