Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, May 02, 2011

Ding! Dong! Bin Laden's Dead!

The day has come most of us were beginning to doubt would ever arrive – master Islamic terrorist Osama Bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals, directed to their target by the CIA, early Sunday morning in a little town called Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In a forty-minute firefight, the SEALs rappelled down into a fortified compound a mere thousand feet from a Pakistani military academy, as the president and his staff watched from the White House Situation Room. One helicopter developed mechanical difficulty and landed hard, but safely. The 24-member team then engaged what forces there were in the compound. Bin Laden, cornered in his third-story bedroom, refused to surrender, using one of his wives as shield.

The SEALs gave him one opportunity to surrender. He refused and the SEALs fired, killing Bin Laden and the woman, as well as three others. The SEALs put his body onto a support chopper and headed towards the Arabian Sea. There, much to the consternation of Americans, he was given a proper Muslim funeral and dumped into the sea.

Not a single American life was lost during the mission, though the team had to destroy the disabled helicopter. God bless the Navy SEALs and the CIA, all those brave, courageous souls who put their lives on the rapel lines to rid the world of this dangerous man.

The reaction across America was jubilation. College students, and others, converged upon the White House and New York’s Ground Zero to celebrate. Cadets at West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy poured out of their barracks onto their courtyards to cheer and sing.

More mature people found such behavior distasteful, celebrating the death of another human being. They felt such displays made Americans seem like the thronging, angry mobs of the Middle East celebrating the deaths of Jews and Christians after a bombing. There is where the difference lies: they were cheering the deaths of innocents. Our young people were cheering the death of someone who brought about those deaths.

I always said if Osama were to ever meet his fate, as well as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, I would ring my bells – that is my chimes. Coat-wrack chimes, as they’re called, are a funny instrument. First, you have to be tall enough to reach the tops of the bars and still hold down the sustaining pedal.

Secondly, you have to strike them the right way. Strike them the right way and they’ll peal beautifully. The right way is to strike them on the top of the molded edge. Friends and I were having an argument about how to do it. They wanted me to strike them flat, on the tube itself. I demonstrated for them what it sounded like; they agreed then that I knew what I was doing.

Strike chimes the wrong way and they sound something like boots clanging on metal grating. Clang, clang, clang, clang, clang, clang! We all have our 9/11 stories and mine has to do with clanging. It’s a sound I’ll personally always associate with 9/11.

I didn’t have access to my chimes last night, obviously. I heard the news as I was getting ready for bed. I was about to take a shower around 10:30 and Geraldo Rivera was saying that a statement from the White House was imminent. At that hour, on a Sunday night, I thought? I figured they were going to announce that Gaddafi had been killed. Now if they announced that Osama Bin Laden was dead, that would be something! But when I was through and came back to the living room, there was the announcement – Osama Bin Laden was dead. I couldn’t believe it. Where are a set of chimes when you really need them?

But alas, at that hour, my neighbors would have complained even if I had them, so I took the news with grim satisfaction and laughed at the crowds of young people chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and the baseball fans interrupting the Mets-Phillies game to cheer the news, just as I always knew they would in the event of the notorious terrorist’s demise.

Though some might think it unseemly, not to mention impractical, and despite Glenn Beck’s humorous celebration tonight, I think the heroes of the raid should be given a ticker tape parade down Broadway to Ground Zero. Only we can’t, because it’s too dangerous for them and while this is a great victory, the war isn’t over by any means. We may celebrate today, only to find ourselves facing the threat KSM promised if Bin Laden was ever killed.

Still, I mean not to be deterred in my own celebration of justice. I won’t see my chimes until Wednesday night rehearsal (assuming I make it to rehearsal that evening). We have nearly a half hour’s time to tune up. Since my instruments obviously don’t need tuning, I’ll be free to let my chimes peal wildly, up and down, in “celebration” of the triumph of freedom, liberty, justice – and hope. Evil can be turned aside and even made to flee, even if it never yields to good.

God bless the U.S. military. A line of gratitude to Pres. Obama for making the right decision (I only suspect that Gen. Petraeus is not being given his due credit). May all of Osama Bin Laden’s many, many victims over these long years, since I first read about him in the late 1980’s, rest in peace.

God bless America and forgive us if we seem jubilant at this news; it’s been a long, dark journey without any justice since 9/11, especially for the survivors and the families affected by that tragedy, and there’s still a long, treacherous road ahead of us; the snake lays hidden in the underbrush, we know, ready to strike. This was simply a respite for us, a release from nearly a decade of doubt and despair. If we didn’t let our enemies hear us rejoice at a victory, we’d lose heart completely and then they would destroy more than our buildings or even our lives; they’d destroy our spirit and then their victory would be complete.

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