Ten years ago, I was in college, commuting from my mom's house in Fairmont to MSU every day. Some days I would get home at 2 or 3 in the morning, having driven an hour from school (working at The Reporter), and have to get up the next morning at 8 or 9 to get back to school.
So, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was sleeping when the first plane hit the tower. My sister knocked on my bedroom door and said, "Amanda, something big is happening. You should turn on the TV." I was 20. My sister was 17. She had absolutely no credibility in my mind. So I yelled something about how she should know how late I'm up, and she should keep quiet.
It nagged at me, though, and I couldn't sleep. So I turned on the TV in my room just in time to see the second plane hit the tower.
I remember not fully getting it. Not understanding what I was seeing. Not understanding why the NBC anchor lost his composure. Were we at war? Was I in danger in Fairmont, Minnesota? How many people worked in those buildings? How many deaths was I witnessing?
Later that day, my best friend, Sara, came over and we started to piece the puzzle together, spouting our theories about the tragedy and what would happen next. Studying the news coverage and letting it sink in that we were sharing in a very important, solemn moment in our country's history. Still not understanding what would cause someone to commit such a horrible act.
In the years that followed, the 9/11 wound scarred over. I say that with ease. I didn't know anyone involved in the tragedy. I was only affected in the way the majority of Americans were, peripherally, in the way that we embraced nationalism and identified ourselves as Americans on a united front against our enemies.
But it wasn't until tonight that I felt a sense of closure. Until now, it has felt like the murderer of 3,000 Americans has been allowed to go free, arrogantly releasing videos and threatening further attacks.
I do not believe in the death penalty. Usually I equate eye-for-an-eye punishment to barbarism. But, tonight, I'm glad Osama bin Laden is dead. I hope he suffered. I hope he prayed for his life. I hope he thought about the horrendous acts he committed and questioned his motives, feared for his soul. I hope he believed at the moment of his death that he would not be forgiven, that he would burn. And I hope his fears came true.
But, mostly, my heart swells for the family of the 9/11 victims. My thoughts go out to you, and even though this doesn't bring your loved ones back, I hope you, too, feel a sense of closure.