U.S. Military Continues to Pay the Price for 9/11 Attacks

Members of the CENTCOM staff salute during the singing of the National Anthem.

Under a cloud dappled sky at the U.S. Central Command Memorial on Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base – a brief remembrance was held Friday for those lost during the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Civilians, first responders, firefighters were remembered along with the men and women of the military who continue to fight overseas long after the smoke has cleared from the Twin Towers, Pentagon and Pennsylvania field.

Some of the honored guests included a few of the doctors from James A. Haley VA Medical Center and members of the CENTCOM Coalition Force.

Most in attendance were men and women in uniform who stood throughout the brief ceremony.

It is they, those wearing the uniform, said CENTCOM Commander Gen. James Mattis, who continue to pay the price of 9-11. He called Al Qaeda an enemy that attacked more than New York City – but also Bali and Moscow – London and Madrid.

CENTCOM Commander Gen. James Mattis pledges to continue the fight for those lost on 9/11.

“It’s an enemy of all civilized people everywhere and an enemy who thought by hurting us on 9-11 he could scare us,” Mattis said. “And with the Americans, he was not aware of the descendents of Valley Forge, of Shiloh, of Midway and Normandy, of Ploiesti and Iwo Jima, Vietnam and more are not made of cotton candy.”

His remarks were brief, but Gen. Mattis reminded his troops that they must, “pledge to fight for enlightenment and tolerance and fight tyranny to the last full measure. The losses of our fellow citizens from so many nations only remind us that the innocents on 9-11 our stalwart brothers and sisters in uniform since who we’ve lost have only made us more determined.”

Navy SEALs Recount their Raid on Osama bin Laden

A generic photo of Navy SEALs in training.

An administrator’s note: the Reporter-at-Large Nicholas Schmidle did NOT talk directly with the Navy SEALs as he and this posting suggests – he talked with unidentified people who listened in on the operation.

 

We may never know who they are – the Navy SEAL team that found and killed Osama bin Laden. But we now know a little bit more of how that team took out the mastermind behind the 9-11 terrorists attacks on the United States.

Reporter-at-Large Nicholas Schmidle talked with several SEAL members who took part in the raid and gives a detailed account in the Aug. 8th The New Yorker – Getting bin Laden – What happened that night in Abbottabad.

Schmidle talked with NPR’s Steve Inskeep about his upcoming article Monday on Morning Edition. The New Yorker article gives a detailed account of the planning for the operation — much of the information has not been previously disclosed — and a play by play of the night the al-Qaida leader was killed.

You can learn more about the SEAL Team Six, established in 1980, in a Bloomberg.com account of the raid on bin Laden’s compound.

US Government Releases Videos of Bin Laden

The Pentagon has released videos of Osama Bin Laden that were seized when U.S. Navy Seals raided his compound earlier this week and killed the al-Qaida leader.

A link to one of the videos showing Bin Laden watching TV is here.

In addition to the government released videos, ABC News has exclusive video from inside the compound here.

And since I’m posting videos, I will repost the video of Robert Bergdahl asking the Taliban to return his son, Army PFC Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured almost two years ago in Afghanistan and is being held captive in Pakistan.

I posted this late yesterday and fear not many have viewed it. The YouTube video had about 100 hits when I found it. That count is only up to just over 5,000.

Mr. Bergdahl’s video plea is worth watching to see the dignity of a father who shows respect and restraint even when addressing the men holding his son. Robert Bergdahl may your words be heard.

A FATHER’S PLEA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJmmZQ3byKQ

Again, my apology that I’ve yet to resolve the video embedding issue. But the link will take you to YouTube.

Marking the Loss of One Who Fought Bin Laden

 In yesterday’s blog, Tracie Ciambotti asked this question about the “celebration” and patriotic responses over the death of Osama Bin Laden:

“Do service members dying for our freedom, wounded warriors confined to wheel chairs, and daily sacrifices made by military families—all for the defense of what our flag represents—not warrant the same media attention and outpouring from a grateful nation?”

Today, 6 May 2011, is a sad time because a fallen warrior – the second in just three days – will arrive in Tampa. But, it is also an opportunity to display the patriotism and same outpouring of emotion many felt upon the news of Bin Laden’s death.

Air Force Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II

Air Force Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, 40,  was one of nine killed April 27th by a disgruntled Afghan Air Force pilot at Kabul International Airport.

Estelle started his career at MacDill as a communications officer with the 6th Communications Squadron, where he was stationed from February 1999 to January 2001.

Estelle is scheduled to return to MacDill on an Angel Flight at noon. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will provide Estelle and his family a Fallen Hero Escort which is expected to leave the base at 12:45 p.m.

People living in the Tampa Bay area can gather to show their respects to Estelle – someone who gave his life fighting the terrorism spread by Bin Laden – by turning out to line the honor escort route.

Note that the route of the escort goes through downtown Tampa during lunchtime – so no excuses.

The route: eave MacDill AFB at 12:45 – North on BayShore Blvd. – East on Platt Street Bridge – North on Florida Ave. – East on Jackson Street – North on N. Jefferson Street – East on Twiggs Street – South on Ashley Drive – West on  Kennedy Blvd to  North Howard  and the Ray Williams Funeral Home, 301 North Howard Ave., Tampa.

How Do You Define True Patriotism?

Image courtesy of PatriotIcon.org

By Tracie Ciambotti

It has been an interesting week as the varied reactions to the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death emerge.   Crowds gathered in the streets to celebrate a national victory; the killing of a terrorist whose evil plots took many American lives.  There are several new debates brewing across the nation.  Is it moral to celebrate anyone’s death?  Will this have any impact on Al Qaeda?  If so, what kind?  Is it time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home?  Why should we continue to give billions of dollars to Pakistan?  Are we financially supporting a country who is supplying the very weapons used to kill our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan? 

These are very good questions and need to be debated.  This is the spirit of America: to debate the issues and find solutions.

Image courtesy of PatriotIcon.org

Patriotism has soared as it did after 9/11, uniting a nation that has been divided in many ways for a very long time. Images were splattered on news channels of citizens draped in the American Flag, chanting “USA!”  I posted the Facebook badge Everlasting American Flag on the Military Families Ministry’s Facebook page.  I wonder, though, how long this surge of patriotism will last and why it takes events like 9/11 or the killing of Osama Bin Laden to bring together the people of the “United” States. 

Our founding fathers shared a vision of freedom, liberty, and equality, and they worked together to create and sign our Constitution.  Have we as a “united” nation lost sight of the very principles that this country was founded on?  Why does it take a major event to get our flags waving? 
Are we so obsessed with personal gain that we have forgotten the cost of the very freedom that allows us to realize our dreams?  

Facebook Everlasting Flag Icon.

As the mother of a soldier who is preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, I am well aware of the price tag that is attached to my freedom.  While I am relieved that no one else will die at the hands of Osama Bin Laden, his death does not change my life as the mother of a soldier heading to war.  It may actually make my son’s job harder—more dangerous—as others may be inspired to rise up and carry on the cause of Bin Laden. 

Although it feels good to see the elevation in patriotism and to celebrate the victory of a ten-year effort against terrorism, I am saddened that this overwhelming response is related to a dead terrorist when it should be evident every day for other reasons. 

Do service members dying for our freedom, wounded warriors confined to wheel chairs, and daily sacrifices made by military families—all for the defense of what our flag represents—not warrant the same media attention and outpouring from a grateful nation?  Is American patriotism not symbolized by loyalty to the American flag?  If so, why doesn’t every flag in this nation wave in honor and gratitude every time someone sacrifices to defend it?

Tracie Ciambotti is the Co-founder of Military Families Ministry (MFM) and mother of an Army sergeant. Her previous blog contributions:

When War Gets Personal

An Army Mom Connects Military Families and Churches

Do You Remember Where Were You When …

I will always vividly remember sitting on the floor in modern dance when the door opened and in came the rest of the dance department students and faculty of the small arts college I attended. The pianist was confused and slowly came to a stop mid-bar as all of us taking the class finally realized that we needed to stop, too. It was the morning of September 11, 2001 and the Dean had gathered us together to let us know that planes had flown into the Twin Towers.

Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day and I made my way home from Downtown Miami. I spent the rest of the day watching the news as footage of the planes and later the buildings collapsing  played on a loop.

There would be the start of the war on terrorism, anthrax scares, countless speeches from elected officials, bombings, and the ever-growing list of things you can’t take on planes. It all instantly became the new normal and life continued.

We were getting ready for bed and my husband decided to check his Facebook page one last time. Seemingly out of nowhere, he said “Osama’s dead.” Thinking either I or he had misunderstood, he immediately began looking for information online and I turned on a local TV channel. There in big letters read: “Osama bin Laden has been killed.”

There was a moment of relief and celebration as we each scrolled through our Facebook pages reading everyone else’s comments and leaving a few of our own.

However, relief quickly turned to concern as the questions started running through my head: What now? What does this mean for my husbands’ job in the military? Will there be more deployments? What are they going to do to get back at us?

When the President came out to speak, I almost wanted to wake up my daughter. She’s only four months old but I thought I could tell her when she was older that she listened as the President told us we had one more reason to slept better at night.

Running errands around town on Monday, I sensed a buzz in the air as people talked about Bin Laden’s death, news coverage released more information, people celebrated in the streets and the Facebook posts continued. My personal favorite: The regular girl married the prince and the bad guy is dead. This weekend has been brought to you by Disney.

Does this fix anything? No. Could there be retaliation? Yes. Will we get through this phase of this ongoing saga? Definitely. Our soldiers still put on their uniforms and went to work today. Osama bin Laden’s followers aren’t going to just lay down their guns and walk away. However, I think America needed this reminder that our efforts are not in vain and we needed a reason to celebrate. It’s not over, but I hope we are getting there.

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