Margot Stengel went to bed Sunday on the early side, with a heavy heart, as she had ever since her son died during his tour in Afghanistan. She was surprised when the phone rang a little before 10, and even more surprised to hear the voice of her grandson.More at the link.
An often taciturn teenager, Jessee had a lot on his mind. Osama bin Laden, he told her, was dead. And it had come too late for his father, who died in December saddled with doubt about his slog through a dangerous pocket of Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.
It had seemed a confounding mission, both to California Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Vincent W. Ashlock and to his family back home, with an objective as concrete as a handful of water. But here was a moment, Stengel told her grandson, of clarity — finally, mercifully.
"Your father," she told her grandson, "is tap-dancing in heaven."
Since 2001, more than 1,500 Americans have died supporting the war in Afghanistan, including 161 Californians, according to military databases. For the friends and relatives of those troops, the announcement that U.S. special forces had killed Bin Laden was cause for celebration. It was also an opportunity to reassess sacrifices, to wrest a historic and tangible result, at long last, from a murky war.
"He is a part of this," Stengel said of her son. "Every step he took over there was one step toward freedom. I believe that. I'll spend the rest of my life missing him. But his circle, his goal, is complete."
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
This was a front-page report at yesterday's Los Angeles Times, "For friends and family of fallen troops, celebration and reassessment at news of Bin Laden's death":
And that's Debra Burlingame above, who shares her thoughts and emotions on the death of Bin Laden.