John Berry has always been proud to be a soldier in the United States Army. But on Monday, he had even more of a reason to be proud.
Berry, 46, an Army reservist currently stationed in Iraq, heard the long-awaited news of Osama bin Laden’s death while talking via Skype to his family in Redlands.
“Of course I'm thrilled,” said Berry via email. “It's a great day to be an American soldier and makes serving all that much more worthwhile. We killed a Hitler-wannabe (Sunday), so what's there not to like? We rubbed out evil today like a cigar smoker stepping on burning ash.”
Bin Laden’s death early Sunday in the town of Abbottabad has brought a wave of patriotism and created a lot of buzz, relief and concern.
According to numerous news reports, a team of Navy SEALs and members of the CIA stormed bin Laden’s compound. After a firefight, the once powerful leader of al-Qaida was dead, his body in the hands of American troops.
“I so love the idea that the last image bin Laden saw was an American soldier who came to capture or kill him,” Berry said. “That must have rocked his evil world before moving onto 'paradise.' ”
Bin Laden’s followers were responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. He had escaped capture for close to 10 years since the attacks took place.
“I’m glad he’s gone, because he was a horrible person and that’s one less terrorist that has the possibility of harming our country and our people,” said Lindsey Nymeyer, of Yucaipa.
Others shared the sentiment that bin Laden’s death won’t stop other terrorists from attacking civilians around the world.
“I hope this brings some closures to the families who lost relatives on Sept. 11,” said Christine Grant, of Redlands. “I don’t think it makes us any safer, but it’s still a good feeling to know that he’s gone.”
"Justice has been served, but I know it's not the end of the war on terrorism,” added Lesley Kukulka, of Redlands.
Since the president announced bin Laden had been killed, the cable news networks have provided non-stop coverage on every aspect of the event down to bin Laden’s burial at sea. Much to the frustration of many, bin Laden had been living in a fortress just outside Islamabad instead of a cave in Afghanistan as many believed.
“It's ironic that he was hiding in plain sight, inside of a mansion instead of in a cave,” said Shana Wilkinson, of Redlands. “I feel very relieved to know he's not out there anymore.”
Across the country, spontaneous gatherings occurred at the White House and locations hit during the Sept. 11 attacks, including Ground Zero. While many understand the reason behind the celebrations, some questioned the importance the event.
“I don’t care too much about it,” said Kristin Schneider, of San Bernardino. “I just hope nothing bad comes from it. I’m tired of extremists of any political party and just think people need to focus more on their day to day lives and being more concerned with their communities as much as they seem to be about this event.”
Berry points out, however, that for him, bin Laden's death is very meaningful. Bin Laden was dangerous. And serving is not only a source of pride, but a contribution to his community that has supported him every through every step of his deployment.
“I appreciate all the well-wishes and prayers I've received, not just today, but since serving on active duty. I can feel their prayers all the way from Redlands to Iraq,” he said.