The death of Osama bin Laden ten years after the horrific disaster that made his name synonymous with evil around the world marked the successful culmination of a long, tortuous journey of resolve for our country. It also revived a wellspring of emotions that all of us, as Americans, will always associate with the strange and unsettling September of 2001.
What were these emotions? There were so many. Pain and sadness. Anger. Shock. Consciousness of the existence of true evil. But there was also solidarity and kindness, a willingness to reach out to others. There was a sincere outpouring of patriotism. There was faith in the innate ability of Americans to pull together to overcome the most horrible catastrophe imaginable. There was reassurance in the sympathy and goodwill of those from other countries. And there was an immediate realization that life as we knew it had changed in a way we could not yet define.
Because of the enormity of the tragedy of 9/11, we tend to think of it in terms of its huge collective effects and consequences. But we must not forget that the defining moments of history draw their real significance from their impact on individual lives.
As citizens of a country and residents of a community who have shared a common experience and so many of the feelings that went with it, we can never really know what each person, each family who lost a loved one has had to endure. My heart goes out to all those who have been reminded this week of the long, personal road they have traveled and continue to travel. Only they know the depth and the meaning of their private reality. I wish them peace.