I have been enjoying going through the Wayback Machine one more time, combing more thoroughly some of Lex’s posts from all those years ago. I believe that I have come to know him, both in his thoughts and character, as he was typing on that Mac, usually before the dinner bell, most probably with a Martini (vodka martini: Ketel One, up, dry, twist – which is three adjectives, for those of you keeping score at home.) I have even come to consider him as a friend, although I don’t know what he would have to say about it.
One of those posts I recently reposted was something I faced years ago – when that movie came out. Something that Lex acknowledged at the same time as my facing it.
At fifteen seconds after 9:41 A.M., on September 11, 2001, a photographer named Richard Drew took a picture of a man falling through the sky — falling through time as well as through space. The picture went all around the world, and then disappeared, as if we willed it away. One of the most famous photographs in human history became an unmarked grave, and the man buried inside its frame — the Falling Man — became the Unknown Soldier in a war whose end we have not yet seen. Richard Drew’s photograph is all we know of him, and yet all we know of him becomes a measure of what we know of ourselves. The picture is his cenotaph, and like the monuments dedicated to the memory of unknown soliders everywhere, it asks that we look at it, and make one simple acknowledgment.
That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.
There are no pictures. But you should nevertheless bear witness, you owe it to yourself.
We will very likely never learn the name of the hero that killed Osama bin Laden. We know that he endured a grueling 120 hours of Hell Week in training, smack in the middle of a six month, arduous Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training program that has an 80-85% washout rate. We know that he spent a further year in training with his team before being deemed combat ready. We suspect that he was a member of the Naval Special Warfare Group – DevGru – which is to a straight-stick SEAL team what the SEALs are to the Navy, the elite of the elite. Working the math on his recruitment, selection and training, we can assume he is in his late 20s or early 30s.
The Pakistani government, at least, is acknowledging the fact of Osama bin Laden’s residency in their state. The military and ISI have been strangely silent on the matter of US military operatives flying into their country and executing a direct action assault just down the street from a military academy:
In 1985, Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem was tortured and killed by hijackers aboard TWA Flight 987 in Beirut. He was singled out because he was an American serviceman. Stethem was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, and had a destroyer named after him. There is also a sports complex that bears his name in Waldorf, CT MD.
Way back in the way back when, apocryphal stories were told to your humble about Lebanese militiamen who had the temerity to kidnap Russian diplomats during that country’s troubles. The way I heard the story, the Soviets refused to pay ransoms that might further future adventurism. Instead they sent spetznaz operatives to target the relatives of those who had abducted their citizens and sent them home to the hostage takers slice by slice. The incidence of Soviet citizens being held hostage declined remarkably.
As congressmen and many in the public stew over the pending court martial of three Navy SEALs accused of abusing a detainee and making false official statements, a SEALs blog * remembers one of them men murdered whose desecrated remains were hung from that infamous bridge in Fallujah: