Ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, known for being “the man who killed Osama bin Laden,” has a special request this Memorial Day.
What did he ask?
O'Neill doesn’t want anyone to tell him “happy Memorial Day.”
“Memorial Day is not a celebration,” O’Neill wrote for Fox News, where he is a contributor. “Memorial Day is a time for reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving for patriots who gave up their own lives to protect the lives and freedom of us all – including the freedom of generations long gone and generations yet unborn. We owe the fallen a debt so enormous that it can never be repaid.”
But for many Americans, the day will be spent focused on picnics and family gatherings, and perhaps making plans for the summer season, O’Neill noted. Others will be shopping for deals on cars, furniture and clothes.
As people are celebrating, the grass is growing over the final resting places of those whose lives were cut short defending our country in “Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other far-off places many Americans have rarely heard of,” he said.
Army Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed last October in an ISIS ambush in Niger, but not many know America even has troops in Niger, O’Neill explained.
“These unknown soldiers lost their lives protecting you – every one of you reading these words," he stated.
As millions of high school students walk across stages this season to get their diplomas, many will go on to college or jobs. But some will enter the military, "joining the second generation of American warriors fighting in the Global War on Terror – a war that began with the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that took the lives of almost 3,000 people in our homeland," O'Neill wrote.
"Most of these new recruits — who were not even born or who were just infants when the 9/11 attacks took place — will make it home just fine. But some will not. I pray that I am wrong, but the sad truth is that the number of American war dead on Memorial Day in 2019 will be higher than it is on this Memorial Day," he explained.
In May of 2011, headlines announced that a group of elite Navy SEALS were responsible for finding and killing Osama bin Laden, the leader and founder of the Islamist group Al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was also blamed for the attacks on the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
What is his hope for the future?
O'Neill said he wishes he knew how to prevent more people from dying in wars.
"But battle lines are being drawn and redrawn, and wars and terrorist attacks just keep going on and on. Weapons are getting bigger," he wrote "Bombs are becoming smarter and more lives are being lost every day all over the world, leading to more death, more anger and more war."
In war, O'Neill said, anyone can be turned into a memory in a moment.
He asked all Americans to join him in hoping and praying for the day that "war is just a memory – part of our past but not our future."