Cheers and joy, but also dark memories

All of America is cheering President Obama’s dramatic statement last night that Osama bin Laden had been killed. Obama’s statement that “justice now been done” reflects well the satisfaction and relief around the country.

Osama bin Laden had by now almost been forgotten, and most Americans had given up hope that the United States would ever catch him. This fact contributed to the total surprise of the news.

The relief and satisfaction were particularly felt among relatives of the nearly 3,000 Americans who were killed in the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington ten years ago. The face behind the biggest terrorist attack ever on American soil, Osama bin Laden, was dead. This was big and the news evoked strong emotions, but also nervousness and, maybe, a little fear for the future.

For many, the news also brought old and dark memories, also for me personally. On September 11, 2001, I lived with my family on John Street, just three blocks from Ground Zero. Memories of the terrible events that beautiful September morning, when the World Trade Center’s two huge towers came crashing down and everything suddenly turned pitch black around us, are unforgettable. Like for many Americans, bin Laden’s death was for us the end of a long and dark chapter but with many new concerns and questions about the future. Alert levels have been raised around the U.S. as well as on military bases and U.S. embassies around the world.

Bin Laden’s death is seen as a major step forward in the fight against al Qaeda, a milestone, but officials have also underlined the need for continued vigilance. His death is also seen as a great personal achievement for President Obama, who won praise across the political spectrum. Republican congressman Peter King from New York, with hundreds of casualties among the residents of his constituency and who has often been critical of Obama, congratulated him on the success.

It was a new lead in August last year on bin Laden’s whereabouts that signaled the beginning of the end for bin Laden. According to press reports, the president ordered the attack last Friday and the Pakistani government was not informed or involved. See the article on the New York Times website on the detective work that led to bin Laden’s death.

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