Osama bin Laden is dead, shot in the head during a courageous military operation in Pakistan led by U.S. Naval Special Operations Forces. The news was applauded at home by raucous Americans outside the White House, at a Phillies-Mets baseball game and in small towns everywhere. The victims of September 11, 2001 have finally received justice. But even justice cannot provide complete closure for the families torn apart by Osama bin Laden’s crimes. “[I have] a feeling of happiness, but not jump-up-and-down happiness,” said September 11 widower Charles Wolf. “The idea of closure is something that really, really — it doesn’t exist, to tell you the truth.”
We must not let our exuberance distract us from protecting our families, spouses and friends from future potential attacks. Even Sunday’s arrival of justice cannot replace the victims’ loved ones forever lost from their lives. Osama bin Laden’s and his followers’ crimes have victimized families in Kenya/Tanzania (1998), America (2001), Spain (2003) and India (2008). Sunday’s justice assuaged the pain inflicted not just upon America, but upon humanity worldwide. It was a somber day of justice delivered by America to families around the world.
However, preventing future innocents from suffering is a much more demanding duty than executing a military mission. America and its allies must continue to dismantle, disrupt and defeat Islamist extremists. More importantly, America must continue to strengthen mutually beneficial relationships with all Muslims. No amount of air-drone strikes can defeat an al-Qaeda with an endless recruitment stream. Events like the Iraq War have only increased the number of terrorists working to kill Christians, Jews and Muslims in places like Madrid and Mumbai. Prevention is one of the most difficult duties, but it is also the most imperative duty because no amount of justice, not even Osama bin Laden’s death, can replace a loved one lost to terrorism.