Now we must keep America safe 05-06-2011

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Column by Jim Clark

Sometimes sports and real life cross paths, and the result can be an emotional outburst, in a good way, of thousands of Americans.

Sunday night, my Mets were the game of the week as they traveled to Philadelphia. The game didn’t start until 8 p.m., and like many others, I could only make it through six innings, then hit the “record” button and went to sleep.

Normally I get up about 6 a.m., but I woke up earlier on Monday, and clicked on the TV to continue watching the game. After a couple of innings of lying there half asleep, I heard the announcers say something like “ABC is reporting that Osama bin Laden has been killed.”

That woke me up in a hurry.

Within minutes, the chant of “USA, USA” went up from the sold-out stadium as fans forgot about the exciting baseball game (the Mets won, 2-1, in 14 innings) and started buzzing about bin Laden. You could see the message spreading throughout the stadium, and the fans got more demonstrative as the news was confirmed.

This was the only national gathering of a crowd that size late on Sunday night, so the reactions have been shown across the country for quite a while afterward. It was really a microcosm of what was going on all over … the sudden reaction to news that people had been waiting for since 2001.

Once I realized what was going on, I turned off the game and went over to some of the news stations on television. I found that he had already been “buried at sea,” which to me is an honor reserved for heroes. I understand why they did it, so there would be no one memorial that bin Laden fans could erect at any one site.

As of this writing on Tuesday, the government has not released any photos of the terrorist’s body or the video of the burial. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I realize there are the immediate conspiracy theorists who want proof that bin Laden is dead, but for me, normally a skeptic when it comes to government news, it’s not necessary. There appears to be way too much evidence that this really happened, and I accept that. Let’s move on.

I feel that in the long run, of far more importance, is the seizure of computers and records from the compound. Maybe this will help us track down more terrorists, and make our world safer.

This was a great military operation, and our troops and those who planned the attack should be commended. Even when a helicopter went down before the raid, there was another ready to take its place. Contrast that with Jimmy Carter’s failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran that was botched when a helicopter crashed during that operation, too.

The reaction of the fans in Philadelphia was to be expected. The announcement unleashed glee all across the country. It was not the first time, either, that sports played a big part in letting people know what had happened in our nation. There was Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football telling the world that John Lennon was killed. There was Al Michaels during a World Series pre-game acknowledging the shaking in the press box, telling fans, “You know what, we’re having an earth…..” and the rest of his sentence was cut off as a massive quake shook northern California.

This was a more major, unifying announcement on Sunday night, though, and it was one of those “I remember where I was” moments when we heard about it.

All we can hope for now is that the death of bin Laden will not lead to retaliation by his followers. We have to continue to be vigilant, and make sure that we keep America safe.


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at 352-854-3986 or at editor@smcitizen.com.