If you are old enough to remember 9/11/01, it is a day seared into memory. Bright flames flickering against white walls. Fingers of fire illuminating a deep and overwhelming hatred of our country. Thick, black smoke choking out the sun. Ash-covered survivors expressing terror and shock. The silence that comes when all forms of flight are grounded.
Above all, the grief. The tear-stained burden of grief assumed not just by the families who lost a loved one that day, but by millions of us who witnessed the devastation. Grief on a massive level. The kind of national grief we are unaccustomed to experiencing in America.
Osama Bin Laden was given credit for creating the monstrous rubble of 9/11. His will was done that day, the day that thousands of Americans died in the attacks.
The insanity of the attack was what struck me most. It was astonishing to learn that people were possessed of the kind of hate that could cause them to fly planes into buildings, bring down the World Trade Centers, turn the Pentagon into flames, create a black hole in a Pennsylvania field, exterminate thousands of Americans and kill a little girl on her way to Disney.
Last night, President Obama announced that Osama was dead. The man who was rumored to be living in Afghan caves was hiding out in a compound located in a resort town in Pakistan just a mile from the Pakistan military academy.
[How did we not know that?! How is it possible for the world's most wanted man to hide out in plain sight like that? And how can we possibly consider Pakistan an ally?!]
The attack was live-tweeted by a man who had no idea what was going on at the time. In learning of Bin Laden's death, I did not feel an overwhelming sense of victory. I did not feel that the enemy was now vanquished.
When I learned Osama was dead, I struggled to understand why it took nearly a decade to take him down. I wondered how he came to live in a massive compound located near a Pakistani military school. Who Pakistan is allied with - us or them. Why our intelligence remains as faulty as when it was used to scare Americans into fearing a nuclear attack of America launched by Iraq.
The mastermind is dead. But the war he initiated seems without end. And that it took a decade to find a man hiding in plain sight in the land of an ally is something that many Americans will be hard-pressed to forget. Just like the images of the fire and smoke and death and grief that Osama launched upon us nearly ten years ago on a bright and beautiful September day.