As news got around on Sunday that Osama bin Laden was dead and that he had been made so by direct purposeful action by military representatives of the American people, a great deal of satisfaction was expressed about that fact, and, almost miraculously, none of it was ghoulish and very little of it had a vengeful sound.
For the most part, our representatives in Congress mirrored this sense of the moment and reflected President Obama's own emphasis — that justice had been done, that a mass murderer had received his due, and, correspondingly, that patience, courage, and dedication had received their just rewards:
"We did not tire, we did not falter, and we did not fail. Justice has been done." — 7th District U.S. representative Marsha Blackburn.
"The mission after 9/11 was to get Osama bin Laden. Our troops did it and they did it in a spectacular fashion. I've always been proud to be a member of the House and an American. I've never been more proud than today when I think about our soldiers who put themselves in harm's way to truly protect our country and to keep our freedoms." — 9th District U.S. representative Steve Cohen.
"I commend all the brave men and women in uniform who selflessly serve overseas and sacrifice so much to keep America safe and secure. We are a grateful nation to these service members for their heroic actions that have brought justice to all Americans." — 8th District U.S. representative Stephen Fincher.
"... [A]ll of us have in our hearts and minds the victims of 9/11 and hope that somehow, in a small way, this event helps bring some conclusion to what has happened in their lives." — U.S. senator Lamar Alexander.
"I would like to congratulate the men and women of our military for a courageous mission and our intelligence community for accurate and important intelligence. I would like to congratulate the president for his persistence in bringing a mass murderer to justice. And I would especially like to salute the men and women of our military services, who for the last 10 years have fought terrorism." — U.S. senator Bob Corker.
The emphasis here was uniform and clear. Brave and determined Americans had distinguished themselves in righting a wrong. Period. No gloating, no bloodlust, and no recriminations. Except ...
Senator Corker went on to raise an issue that is on a lot of minds, justly so: "... [T]he discovery that bin Laden was living in comfortable surroundings merely 35 miles from Islamabad calls into question whether or not the Pakistanis had knowledge that he was there and did not share that knowledge."
This, too, needed saying. For even in this moment of well-earned closure, even in the midst of a democratically inclined "Arab Spring," there is reason for ongoing concern and continued vigilance. We still have not identified all of the perils out there, nor can we truly say that we have fully and compassionately understood the part of the world from which this latest threat has sprung. The task is still what it was — to confront and deal with reality. Ignorance is the ultimate enemy.
This week it starts in earnest — the questioning. You can't escape it. It comes from your spouse, your kids, your parents — at the breakfast table, in the car, on the phone, via email: "What do you want for Christmas?" ...