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Osama bin Laden

Every citizen of the United States took the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, personally, for good reason. They were attacks on the very core of our civilization, with the intent of destroying not only the more than 3,000 lives they took, but also the fabric of our society. But in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden as the result of a U.S. military operation this week, it became clear that for those who were children and teens at the time, the attacks were very personal and a defining moment in their young lives.Those who were in middle school and high school in 2001 are now in their late teens and 20s, and many of them gathered wherever they were, in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston and elsewhere, to celebrate the end of a part of the war on terror that had been left unfinished for almost 10 years. For these young people, and of course for many of us on the planet, bin Laden symbolized evil in a way that only leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot had in recent history. Bin Laden’s death marks the end of an era that destroyed their innocence and took the lives of not only those killed on 9/11 but also their friends and family who have served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan in the following 10 years. It has been a very personal time of war for them, and for us all.Whatever retaliation may be in the minds of al-Qaeda because of bin Laden’s death, there are few in the United States who would not take that risk to send a message to those who have targeted this country and plotted its doom. This was a mission that avenged those who lost loved ones in the 2001 attacks on U.S. soil in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. They could not forget and are surely grateful that the U.S. military and administration did not forget, either.

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