Proud to be ... It is not the death. It is not the revenge. It is that we stood strong.
Americans are not the type to revel in the streets when someone is killed. It just is not our style.
And while there was much celebration when it was announced that Osama bin Laden was dead, it was not a rage-filled, blood-thirsty victory dance.
It was not chest-beating and it was not a "death to Arabs" chant. It was not about American bullying or any of the other less-than-desirable motives that are usually attached to any act by the U.S. these days.
When we heard that the leader of al-Qaida was dead, it was the fulfillment of a promise made nearly 10 years ago -- a promise to not forget the more than 3,000 people who were killed on a September day in New York City and the others who died in the Pentagon and on a plane as it crashed to the ground in Pennsylvania.
We promised then that we would not let the world forget their loss -- and that we would make sure that those who took their innocent lives would be punished.
And while there have been many successes in the war on terror and much bravery on the part of the men and women who have served over the last decade that led to this pivotal moment, when it actually happened, it was a relief, a milestone, a marker, a promise kept.
There are many to thank for this victory. First off, the Navy SEALs who risked their lives to pull it off, and the thousands of men and women in the intelligence community who for years have tracked, traced and connected the dots.
Also, the men and women who serve in our armed forces, all of them, helped make this progress possible.
This is not about a president or an administration's policy -- although the groundwork was laid that fateful day in 2001. Former President George W. Bush knew that. President Bill Clinton did, too. That's why they stayed home instead of going to Ground Zero. This week was not about politics, credit or chest-pounding.
This was a moment for the 9/11 families, those who said goodbye to loved ones and friends as a world watched in horror as cowards attacked the U.S.
This was for the firefighters and emergency personnel who rushed to their aid, and to the men and women in the armed forces who gave their lives to make sure their nation was safe from further attacks.
It was a time for thought, memories and peace. It was a time for remembering just how lucky we are to live in a country where we have principles, values and the strength to protect freedom and to fight evil, no matter where it resides.
But now we have to understand, this battle is not over yet. There is work to be done to make sure that the terrorist community is really on the run -- and that the promise we made 10 years ago to keep this nation safe is one we can keep.
So we close a chapter on Osama bin Laden, but do not forget the message that it sends around the world.
This, the greatest nation in the world -- and yes, we are, despite what some might think -- is still strong, still united and still willing to fight for freedom and what's right.
It doesn't matter whether we are Democrats, Republicans or Independents or if we label ourselves with another moniker. It does not matter who is in charge or what policies they might change or the speeches they might give.
This nation belongs to its people -- and that makes it stronger than any other.
That is why we should be proud today. We should be proud to be Americans -- citizens of a nation that follows through, stands strong, and never, ever leaves a man behind or forgets a promise, no matter how hard it is to keep.
Published in Editorials on May 7, 2011 11:29 PM