May 4, 2011
Sunday afternoon I flew to Washington, DC, for what was to be a routine business trip—three days of meetings and discussions, then back to Indiana. Late Sunday night, everything changed when news broke that Osama bin Laden, symbolic leader of the al-Qaida terrorist organization, was dead.
Though I have visited DC many times before—more times than I can count—never before have I experienced such unity of mood. Minutes after the President’s late-night address, thousands of people from of all walks of life were in the streets, shouting, “USA! USA!” It was awe-inspiring to witness.
The exuberance continued the next day and the next, on every street corner, with an outpouring of pride, gratitude, relief and joy. The collective feeling is that, at last, real progress has been made in the fight against terrorism. The near decade-long quest against a criminal mastermind is over.
Our larger struggle is not yet over, we know. But still we pause to reflect on this victory and what it means to be an American. We pause from our daily cares to appreciate our daily blessings. We pause to thank President Barack Obama for completing the course set by President George W. Bush. And we pause to pay homage to the servicemen and women who regularly put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedoms.
This evening I fly back home to Indiana. I anticipate longer-than-usual delays at the airport, but I also expect that my fellow passengers and I will be more patient—and grateful—than usual. Thank you, USA!
– S. Joe DeHaven