At 12:09 this morning, as I was watching the coverage of the events surrounding President Obama's announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, I tweeted: "Wonder if we'll ever find out which member of the assault team took the shot that killed bin Laden?"
The alert that the President would be making a rare - maybe unprecedented - announcement late on a Sunday night (Eastern time) activated my alerts about five minutes after I had hit the SEND key to push out this morning's regular edition of MULLINGS, which was about corn prices, not Special Forces.
At 1:41 this morning I got an e-mail from Speaker Boehner's chief of staff Barry Jackson who has spent much of his adult life on one end of Pennsylvania Avenue or the other. It simply read:
"We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail...justice will be done."
Words from President Bush's address to the nation shortly after 9/11.
Someone pulled the trigger on the gun that killed bin Laden. Somewhere, someone cast the barrel of the rifle which fired the round that killed bin Laden. Somewhere someone had mined the coal, or tended the nuclear plant that generated the power to run the furnace that cast the barrel of the rifle that fired the round that killed bin Laden.
D-Day didn't begin on June 6, 1944. It had begun years earlier when it was decided there would be a D-Day and the foundations for factories began to be poured to house the furnaces which would forge those millions of rifle barrels.
By December 7, 1941 America's might had already been stirring, but it was the attack on Pearl Harbor which was the ringing of the national alarm clock sending millions of Americans to work, and to war.
September 11, 2001 was no less jarring to our generation. And, like the Axis powers before them, our enemies have mistaken the unruly, uniquely American style of rough-and-tumble public discourse for a dissipation of national will to defeat an enemy whom we believe has done us a grievous wrong.
When President Bush went to what has become known as Ground Zero and put his arm around that retired firefighter, Bob Beckwith, and shouted into the megaphone that "they're all going to hear us pretty soon" no one could have believed it would take nearly 10 years to fire the round that killed bin Laden.
Sometime late last week, President Barack Obama made the decision to approve the mission. That's when Presidents - leaders - earn their money. Much like when Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said on the evening of June 5, 1944, "Tonight, we go."
And, like D-Day, there was no guarantee that anyone was going to get bin Laden in his sights so the shot could be fired which would kill him. In fact, Eisenhower had drafted a message in case of failure:
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troop, the air [force] and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone."
As someone mentioned on Joe Scarborough's program this morning, if the mission had gone wrong, no one would be talking about Defense Secretary Bob Gates, or CIA Director Leon Panetta or the U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus - we would be talking about Obama.
But, the mission went right. The mission which had started as far back as 2002 when the nickname of one of bin Laden's couriers was squeezed out of a prisoner presumably at Guantanamo. Like the pouring of the first footers for the first factory before World War II that disclosure set in motion a series of events which ended yesterday in success.
So, who took the shot that killed bin Laden?