Bombs fell on America's enemies finally but with unknown finality. So, too, did food and medicine tumble from the skies for the suffering Afghan people in the terrorists' midst.
Thus began Enduring Freedom a joint American and British military operation like no other before it.
The firepower, bursting swaths of lightning green over the dark Kabul sky, sought to destroy outcast Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden's terrorist camps and to put on notice the Taliban regime that harbored terrorists in Afghanistan. They had their chance to do right and refused.
In another time, America's response might have been swift, vengeful and all encompassing. Innocent people would be the war's collateral damage, no questions asked. No answers necessary. But the lessons from World War II to Vietnam to last decade's Operation Desert Storm have not been lost on our president. The grace of God seems to envelop him.
Have patience, he tells us. Know that we will not tire and that freedom will prevail.
President George W. Bush not only has risen to the occasion, but he also has put his own stamp of compassionate conservatism to the test. This is not a Texas cowboy riding into Kabul solo, shooting up America's enemies in a revengeful rage. This is not America against the world.
The target is not Muslims or Arabs. This war is not against Islam.
The U.S. target, after mounting evidence showing his connections to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the crashed plane near Pittsburgh, is Osama bin Laden and all terrorist networks or renegade governments that would support atrocious acts against innocent people.
This is the world's war against terrorism with a measured statesman prepared to make peace by destroying those who would threaten it.
Bush has moved cautiously and methodically. From day one, just hours after the terrorists struck, Bush stressed that America's response would focus on the perpetrators and any regimes that might harbor them. He made clear that he understands that Islam is a religion that seeks peace and not war and that the terrorists do not represent the vast majority of Muslims in this world. And he worked with leaders of all nations, big and small, from the Middle East to China to Russia and beyond to underscore the international community's resolve to fight terrorism.
Our commander in chief has lived up to his promise. What distinguishes us from the terrorists is that we seek to feed innocent people instead of blowing them up, as they did Sept. 11 in some twisted, immoral search for justice.
People of many faiths throughout the United States were worshiping Sunday when U.S. and British missiles began striking Taliban military installations near Kabul and assorted camps suspected to harbor bin Laden's ratty bunch. The day before I had prayed at my church for God to grant our president the wisdom to take on those whose viciousness has no end, to give us the strength to make the sacrifices necessary and, most of all, to protect our military. I prayed for our president to show the world that we would defend peace without harming innocents.
I know God answers to no nation. We answer to Him. But it's hard not to feel that the millions of us who have been praying throughout these long weeks were heard. Not because of the missiles and counterattacks. Oh, no. Our prayers were answered because of the humanity of the U.S. response to the most diabolical evil.