As I return from Arlington National Cemetery visiting the gravesite of my brother Cherone Gunn and his shipmates who were killed on board the USS Cole 12 years ago on this date, I reflect on a lot of what has transpired over the course of the past day, week and month. Yes, today a lot of the focus was on the anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole, but there are others who see a sad opportunity to push their political agenda at the same time. I can’t help but to think how has the memory of my brother and his shipmates been honored among those who wish to use the day as a platform for their gain? Aside from today being the anniversary of the attack, there are other attacks and victims of terror whose memory may be taken advantaged of for political gain. It’s all an ironic tragedy.
The trial of one of the suspects held responsible for the attack on the USS Cole is set to get underway in just over a week. It has been 12 years and this is the first such instance where our country is holding someone responsible to answer to the crime. It would seem that this would be a time where everyone could come together to see justice carried out, but while it may or may not come out with a positive outcome some people already are laying ground work on the how’s and why’s things could go wrong.
There is finger-pointing going, specifically with conservatives who say that our president is soft on terrorism. A direct reference is usually made to what happened last month in Benghazi, Libya where Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy there. Some are calling out the president saying he took too long to address the incident as a terrorist attack and that he neglected to do anything to prevent it from happening. This was even brought out in the vice-presidential debate from Thursday evening. True or not, it’s not doing anything to remedy the problem.
We essentially have two problems. The first problem is bad people do bad things. Sometimes they get stopped and sometimes not, but if they are determined enough they will unfortunately find a way. Are you going to want to blame a rape victim for being raped? A shooting victim for getting shot? The other problem is using someone’s death to prove your point and make your statement. On October 13, 2000 the only political statement I wanted to hear was, “we got the sucka” and I really would not have cared who or which side of the aisle it came from. And I doubt the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other American who were killed are drawing any comfort in knowing if it was a riot response to a movie or a planned terrorist attack or bad foreign policy. Get the guy who did it and figure out who left the gate open later.
Not for nothin’ but let’s not forget the reason why we’re arguing this point. Do not grandstand on my brother’s grave, or anyone else’s. This is not about your politics. I don’t care if you could have done it better than the other guy, or if the other guy has no experience, or if either of you have your facts straight. This is not your time to bicker about that. Today is my time. Today is our time as victims. Not to get hypocritical, but if anyone should make a political point out of it, let it be us. I think we deserved that.