Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden are truly heroes

I’ve thought for some time the world “hero” has been much overused since 9/11. There have been American heroes since then, but not every soldier who went off to fight the War on Terror was one. Most, in fact, were simply patriotic Americans serving their country quite capably. We owe them a debt of gratitude, but not necessarily hero status.

But some truly were heroes. And one, a member of Navy SEAL Team Six, whose name we’re not likely to ever know, ranks above the rest. He’s the guy who fired the shot that may have been the last thing Osama bin Laden saw before he went off to claim his 72 virgins. The bullet found a home in bin Laden’s left eye and thus ended the sorry life of one of history’s great villains. That SEAL is a true hero, as are the rest of the team that stormed in Laden’s compound, and I, for one, say, “Thank you.”

Bin Laden died a violent death and it bothers me not in the least.

That celebratory crowds quickly gathered at the White House and at Ground Zero were, in my view, an appropriate response to the news that the man who ordered the death of 3,000 completely innocent Americans on 9/11, and who knows how many more over the years, was dead.

We all still remember the pictures of the spontaneous celebrations that erupted in the Arab world after 9/11. Last week it was our turn.

Those views aren’t shared by everyone.

I had coffee this week with the brain trust of the left wing in Mesa County. They are friends of Henrietta Hay, who was there and I’m happy to report is still spry as ever at 97. For many years Henri was the local liberal voice on this page.

She and her friends are serious, thoughtful people. The consensus among them was that indeed, it’s a good thing Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat. But that he died in yet more violence is dismaying to them. We’re not likely to find any of them celebrating in the streets. They will not celebrate violence even when the victim is the most heinous terrorist in history.

They were also in agreement that Barack Obama handled the operation skillfully and he did so in a manner fitting of his office. Yes he did.

Obama put everything on the line when he ordered the operation. Surgical military exercises are difficult. They are fast-moving, violent and unpredictable, regardless of how well they are planned. This one had a very large political price tag.

I don’t know if the president conferred with Jimmy Carter, who knows painfully well what a military misadventure in that part of the world can cost. If he did, it didn’t keep him from trying a daring mission of his own.

My friends at coffee this week are people of conviction, but probably in the minority.

At the other end of the spectrum is the crowd who hangs out at a bar in Coronado, Calif., called Mc P’s. Coronado is where the Navy SEALs train and Mc P’s is their bar in downtown Coronado. It’s a working-class bar, decorated with military paraphernalia, most of it having to do with SEALs. Beer and whiskey are the drinks of choice. It’s owned by a retired SEAL, and the clientele is for the most part SEALs, ex-SEALs, their wives and girlfriends, and an occasional tourist. Just a week before the SEALs took out bin Laden, Kathy and I were the tourists in Mc P’s.

One of the all-night news channels had a story from Mc P’s after bin Laden was killed. Needless to say the mood there was joyous — and rowdy. I wish our trip had been a week later.

It’s comforting to know all of us — those like myself who are indeed happy bin Laden is somewhere at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, and my friends at the coffee shop, who understand the world is safer with him gone, but would prefer not to celebrate his demise — have Navy SEALs willing to do the truly hard and dangerous work it takes to keep us free.

They really are heroes.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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