Osama Bin Laden, the man behind the deadliest attack on American soil and who sparked a worldwide manhunt, is dead.
News of his death brings special significance. With our ties to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, thousands of wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and children have seen their loved ones shipped overseas in the name of fighting terror.
Many have lost loved ones to the same cause. In all, 126 military personnel from Washington state have died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn - the country's main military operations in the Middle East since Sept. 11, 2001.
Logistically, the instillation has grown and seen influxes of soldiers and their families since then. The Northwest itself, with its Stryker brigades and Navy ships, was one of the launching points for the war on terror.
Roughly 1,000 troops from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, said base spokesman Joseph Piek.
"On nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al Qaeda's terror - justice has been done," said President Obama in a nationally televised address tonight.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., released the following statement:
"The President's announcement tonight is tremendous news for all Americans and for counterterrorism efforts worldwide. The superb work of our military and intelligence communities have led to the death of the mastermind of the worst attack in our nation's history. It is indeed a great moment.
"I applaud our troops, intelligence operatives, and the Administration for never wavering in this important goal in the broader war on terrorism.
"This is a particularly important day for the thousands of Americans who lost a family member, friend or loved one nearly ten years ago. And all of our thanks go to those who have been lost in our military efforts and to our veterans and their families.
"This is indeed a significant moment and one that will continue to propel our efforts to root out terrorists wherever they reside. We must continue to remain vigilant and focused on the protection of the American people."
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., released the following statement about the news:
“This event is a milestone in a decade-long global war on terror,” Reichert said.
“Thanks to the bravery and courage of our military men and women, Osama bin Laden will no longer be able to encourage violence and do harm to those whose only supposed crime is valuing freedom. Justice was served and the world is a safer place without this monster. Again, I thank our military and intelligence personnel for their service and sacrifice. This would not have been possible without their diligence and commitment to this essential mission.”
So knowing all that, knowing more so than any other region how much Bin Laden symbolized evil, and the mission to bring him to justice symbolized the will of the American people, Patch asks the following:
What does Osama Bin Laden's death mean to us here in the Northwest?
Nationwide, a jubilant crowd gathered outside the White House as word spread, the Associated Press reported.
Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, issued a written statement hailing bin Laden's death. "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done," he said.
The terrorists hijacked four planes and flew one of them into one of Manhattan's Twin Towers. Moments later, a second plane slammed into into the other one. Both buildings collapsed, trapping thousands inside and claiming the lives of firefighters and others who had rushed to help them.
A third plane hit the Pentagon, defacing the symbol of America's military night. A fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers and forced the craft from the air, before it could hit its intended target in Washington.
The attacks set off a chain of events that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, and America's entire intelligence apparatus was overhauled to counter the threat of more terror attacks at home.
Here is the national story of Bin Laden's death from the Huffington Post:
Osama Bin Laden is dead, President Obama announced Sunday night, in a televised address to the nation. His death was the result of a U.S. operation launched today in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against a compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding, according to U.S. intelligence. After a firefight, a small team of American forces killed bin Laden and took possession of his body, the president said.
The announcement that Obama would speak came at 9:45 p.m., less than an hour before he was initially scheduled to go on the air. The unusual hour, and the fact that the White House gave no details about the topic, set off a flurry of speculation.
Officials long believed bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world, was hiding in a mountainous region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.