Opinion

Commentary: Bin Laden's death brings justice for mother of USS Cole victim

Once, a mother in Ennis cried and hit the TV when she saw Osama bin Laden.

Not Monday.

More than 10 years after she lost a Navy son to an al Qaida terrorist attack, Sarah Gauna Esquivel said the news of bin Laden's death has brought her peace -- "not closure, but more peace."

Tim Gauna, 21, of the Ellis County town of Rice was one of 17 sailors killed in the 2000 suicide-bomb attack on the USS Cole in harbor in Yemen.

He was the first North Texas resident killed at the hands of bin Laden.

Esquivel was in California with her husband Sunday when one of Tim's sisters, Francis Gomez, texted asking whether she'd heard the news.

"I was just in shock," she said.

"Then I knew there was justice for Tim and for all the people who were hurt."

Almost a year before 9-11, Gauna's family tried to warn us about bin Laden. Back then, uncle James Gauna tried to tell customers in the auto parts shop where he worked. After 9-11, they listened.

James Gauna said that when he heard the news Sunday, he didn't believe it at first. Then, he lifted his gaze heavenward.

"I looked up and talked to Tim," he said.

"I told him, 'The government finally got him for you.'"

The heartbreak of losing a son and nephew has turned into recurring grief for the Gaunas. Quietly, they went to another Navy memorial each time more of his bone fragments were found -- three in all.

Esquivel blamed bin Laden but also blamed herself because her son joined the Navy to afford college, she said. Almost every day, she went to Myrtle Cemetery.

Now she's uncomfortable with the party atmosphere around bin Laden's death.

"This is not an excuse to scream loud, or get drunk, or dance around waving our hands," she said.

"It makes me sad. We're not acting any better than the other side."

She forwarded a text message from another son, Daniel Gomez of Ennis.

"We as Americans should be better," he wrote.

"His followers are going to step up attacks on troops. That means more families going through what we went through. ... No one should be happy at this."

This is the end of bin Laden, not the end of al Qaeda.

And it's not the end of Tim Gauna's mission.

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