Local Military Community Reacts to bin Laden’s Death
From the American Wartime Museum to a local hero wounded in Afghanistan, members of the military community say Osama bin Laden's death is a great accomplishment.
With the news of the U.S. military operation that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, members of the local military community are honoring the years of service that brought about the death of the 9/11 mastermind, but say there is plenty of work still ahead.
Craig Stewart, president and CEO of the American Wartime Museum to be built in Dale City, said the event demonstrates the importance of the museum’s purpose. “This momentous event underscores the importance of our mission: to honor all Americans who serve our nation in wartime,” Stewart said.
Stewart asked all Americans to thank service members. “If your neighbor serves in the military, take a moment to say thanks. If you know someone who works behind the scenes in our government’s national security, intelligence or defense agencies, offer your hand in gratitude. If you know someone who lost a loved one in 9/11 or in service to our country, let them know how much you—and we—appreciate their sacrifice.”
Dale City native Cpl. Josh Himan, USMC, who was wounded in Afghanistan and is now confined to a wheelchair, said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that bin Laden orchestrated had helped convince him to join the military. “I will always remember that I was in government class as a senior in high school,” Himan said. “Joining the military to go to war was my way of paying respect for those who died.”
Himan said the death of bin Laden is a “great milestone in the war on terror,” and that he hopes it will mark a turning point in the war. “Bin Laden was the head of the snake. I'm glad we killed him," Himan said. “I pray that the Taliban will renounce al-Qaida and will work with the government. I pray that their children become educated about other things than bombs and rifles.”
Himan added that he wants bin Laden’s death to serve as a reminder not to live in fear. “I did not sacrifice myself for people to be terrified of terrorists. Great men and women have given their lives so that others can live free—free in thought, peace of mind, and a goal of living in harmony of the world,” he said.
While they are glad, many members of the military community expressed a sense of somberness on the occasion.
“I can’t get too excited about a guy being killed the way he was killed,” said John Meehan, who served in the Army from 1963 to 1966. “Did he deserve to die? Absolutely. I think it’s getting a little carried away with people in a baseball stadium chanting USA like it’s an Olympic game.”
Rusty Franklin, a retired Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, said “It’s been too long coming, and we’re glad it’s done.”
Franklin said he was very happy when he heard the news of bin Laden’s death, but he knows that there is still a lot to be done. “This could lead to bringing our folks home,” he said. “We still have to get his second in command. The war on terrorism is never stopped. We still have to be vigilant.”
Retired Navy Lt. Commander B.J. Richardson agreed. Richardson has two nephews in the military, one of whom, a Seabee, is currently deployed in Afghanistan. “They’re going to keep doing the job we sent them over there to do,” Richardson said.
But with all the work still to be done, Richardson applauded the accomplishment of a key objective.
“It’s a great day for America,” he said.