Osama shaped the current America as much as any President has.
It hit me today reading a blog post by Berzerkeley, where she explained how a slow faucet was adding surprising weight to her life.
Then I realized that until this week we hadn't resolved a very important part of 9-11, and it was weighing heavy on all of us. As long as Bin Laden was still alive, we were still under his thumb. There may be more acts of terrorism in the US, but there will never be another one from him.
I don't think you can understand this if you're not an American. And I didn't feel it so much from Calif, where I experienced 9-11, the way New Yorkers and people in DC and Boston do. The closer you get to the human tragedy of 9-11, and don't overlook it was that, the clearer it becomes.
I read a USA Today account of how people died in the elevators of the WTC on 9-11. It was riveting. Whatever you want to say about the USA, the people who died on 9-11 here were innocent. As innocent as any victim anywhere else in the world. And many of them suffered horrible deaths. Unthinkably horrible. Phoning loved ones to say goodbye. Jumping off the building holding hands. Rushing into cataclysm to save others. Waiting in shock to find out if someone you care about lived or died.
I'm not a jury, I don't have to be objective about this. Americans who celebrated in NY and DC weren't on a jury either, and they could express their relief however they wanted. That's the glory of the USA.
BTW, I sat next to a Pakistani UN engineer on his way to Haiti on the last leg of my flight home from Amsterdam. We had a very interesting conversation about our different perspectives of the unfolding events. Neither of us were home when it happened.