Bin Laden’s death closes a chapter, not the book

Published 8:51 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden is dead, killed in a raid on a compound in Pakistan Sunday night by the U.S. Navy’s elite Seal Team Six.

His death at least symbolically brings to a close a long chapter in the free world’s war with those who would have us all living under some form of dictatorship. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be the final chapter in the book.

The attack on World Trade Center’s twin towers and on the Pentagon on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, at bin Laden’s direction unified the nation for what then-President George W. Bush declared was a “war on terrorism.” He then declared this nation and the free world would not rest until bin Laden and his minions were brought to justice. Bin Laden has finally faced that justice.

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Three local families had a more personal stake in the opening phase of that war than most of the rest of us.

— George Washington Carver High School graduate Ada Acker was killed by the plane that terrorists flew into the Pentagon. Acker, a budget analyst at the Pentagon, was simply doing her job the day she was murdered.

— In another wing of the Pentagon, Air Force Master Sgt. Gregory Whitfield, a graduate of Picayune Memorial High School and the son of Shane and Pat Whitfield of Picayune, was walking down a hall in the Pentagon when the airplane struck the building. Fortunately, he was not injured.

— Judy Genovese of Carriere was going about her everyday business when the plane struck the Twin Towers. She would learn later that her brother, Lt. Geoffrey Guja of the 43rd Battalion, New York City Fire Department, was one of the firemen who died trying to rescue and give aid to those trapped in the Twin Towers.

Since that fateful day, both local National Guard units have been activated and sent into the fight in the war on terrorism. Also, dozens of other young men and women from Pearl River County, motivated by patriotism and a desire to fight this menace that brought death and destruction to our shores, have served in various branches of the military and gone off to fight in this pernicious war.

The war will continue until the enemy recedes back into the shadows from which it emerged. At least now, though, one chapter in the history of that war has been completed.

This is not the end of that war, and we must not think that it is. As we continue to support our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles and cousins who answer the call and put their lives on the line in this brutal fight — we take a moment to share the experiences of three local families affected by that brutal sneak attack.