The Meaning Of A ‘Warrior Heart’

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - May 11, 2011
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Howard Wasdin, an ex-Navy SEAL and co-author of the timely new book Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper, was being interviewed on TV with other ex-SEALs following the capture and killing of Osama bin Ladin.

When asked why he agreed with the after-death handling of bin Ladin’s body, i.e., carefully washed and wrapped in white - in accordance with Islamic custom - before being respectfully buried at sea, Wasdin pointed out that every Navy SEAL is taught to fight with “a warrior’s heart.”

This includes respect and sensitivity to your enemy’s culture and customs, and that bin Laden’s burial was simply an extension of that ethos.

Conversely, so much of the celebrating in front of the White House and the area adjacent to Ground Zero in Manhattan seemed to be based on the mindless joy over the violent death of America’s No. 1 enemy, the man who had caused Ground Zero.


Indeed, the “dancing in the streets” was weirdly reminiscent of Palestinians celebrating the fall of the Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, and the more violent death of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans, including many Muslims. One NYC celebrant, speaking into a media microphone, opined that our mission was now accomplished so we should bring all our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan!

The Book of Proverbs, verse 24: 17-18 - generally considered to be the wisdom of King Solomon, around the year 900 A.D. - may be instructive to the situation: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles. Lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him.”

The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of our Navy SEALs has elicited reactions from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Having not personally lost a friend or loved one in the collapsing towers that fateful day, I’m sure I cannot fully appreciate the feelings of justice fulfilled.

And yet there is no justice that will fill that empty space in so many hearts. Even though a measure of closure may have been provided, probably not many 9-11 families are out dancing in the streets.

I am reminded of my own emotions 38 years ago, upon the end of my seven-year incarceration in the communist prisons of North Vietnam. Having had plenty of time to intellectually scope out the pros and cons of hatred and bitterness toward my captors, I was ultimately able to separate their humanness from the ideology that drove them to torture me to - among other things - make false statements. I forgave my captors but I continue to hate the evils of communism, an ideology based upon lies, slander and hate.

Evil in any form, but especially that which purposely takes the lives of innocents, deserves our unequivocal hatred.

And so it might be with the timely demise of Osama bin Laden. Depending on the size of our “warrior heart,” we may or may not take joy in his violent ending.

Unlike the jihadists, it is simply not generally the American way to celebrate death, but we can absolutely celebrate the end of bin Laden’s evil reign as king of the terrorist world. We can at least focus on some measure of justice for the thousands of souls murdered by his bloody creativity.

But more importantly, we should celebrate the thousands, perhaps millions of lives likely saved from future suicide bombers, dirty radioactive bombs exploded in city centers, nuclear suitcase bombs provided to al-Qaida or Hezbollah by North Korea, Pakistan or Iran.


At this writing, there are still many questions to be answered: Should the picture of bin Laden’s body be released?

Did Pakistan knowingly provide safe haven for him these past five years, and what is its role in harboring other al-Qaida terrorists?

Has the use of water boarding - which was instrumental in obtaining a critical piece of the intelligence trail leading to bin Laden - now been vindicated?

Perhaps most important is the answer to the unasked question:

How long will the United States pursue a targeted terrorist in order to bring him/her to justice? The answer: Relentlessly, for as long as it takes!

Aspiring bin Ladens of the world take heed: “Don’t Tread On Me!”

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