Osama bin Laden is dead.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I sat transfixed in front of the TV as the day’s news unfolded. At the end of the day, overcome with shock, yet desirous to make some positive statement, I affixed an American flag to the post on my front porch and vowed to leave it there until the one responsible for these crimes was brought to justice. I had no idea that so much time would elapse.
As the original flag became worn and tattered, I replaced it with a second. Then a third. And then a fourth. I looked at the flag just last week and decided it was time to purchase a fifth flag. And then the news came on Sunday night. Osama bin Laden had been cornered by American military forces and killed.
As I heard the report I wondered. I wondered if, on May 1st, he felt as safe and secure in his mansion in Pakistan as the people in the Twin Towers felt as they began their work day.
Did he feel as secure as the passengers of Flight 93 and the other two airliners as they boarded their planes that morning?
Did he feel as safe and secure as the military and civilian personnel who worked in the Pentagon?
Did he have any thoughts that this day was anything other than a normal day?
When he heard the “whoop, whoop” of the helicopters coming closer and closer did he have an inkling of what was to happen? Did he just assume that the sounds coming from the helicopters were Pakistani national helicopters or did he pause to listen and think that something out of the ordinary was happening?
When the clatter of gunfire began to erupt in his walled compound, and there were shouts and cries, did his heart beat faster? Did he feel the same uncertainty and fear as did the occupants of the first tower when the airliner slammed into it? Did his adrenaline begin to rush like it did in the brave men who rushed the cockpit on the flight over Pennsylvania?
When his house was breached did he look for a place to run? Did he frantically look for a place to escape, to hide, only to find out that, as so many on 9/11, there was no place to go? Was his breathing shallow, labored, coming in desperate gasps?
When his son was gunned down, did he experience the same torment and anguish that others experienced when their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, children, and loved ones perished in flames? As the gunfire came closer and as his enemies’ footsteps became louder did he feel the same panic that his victims felt when they realized there was no way out?
Did Osama bin Laden, who had talked in glowing terms of martyrdom, ever eager to assign others to that role, ever imagine that it would be the hated “infidels” who would take possession of his body and that he would be dropped into the fathomless depths of the sea, denied the opportunity to provide his followers the simplest of shrines?
Did he imagine, before this day, that crowds in free nations would be waving flags, cheering, and celebrating his death in the streets, much like the crowds in Islamic nations did following 9/11?
Did Osama bin Laden ever believe that the last sight he would ever see was the grim face of a determined American warrior?
Osama bin Laden, mass murderer of innocent men, women, and children, Islamic terrorist, and international criminal, is dead.
I walked outside early on Monday morning and looked at the faded flag that, though showing signs of stress and wear, still looked glorious and waved proudly in the morning breeze. I will leave it up through Memorial Day to honor all of those who have paid freedom’s price.
Osama bin Laden, merchant of death and despair, is dead. The United States of America, still a beacon of freedom and hope for the world’s oppressed, lives on.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]