After hearing news of Osama bin Laden's death, my thoughts returned to that morning when, from my Brooklyn apartment, the image of the South tower disintegrating into dark, billowing plumes of smoke was permanently seared into my memory.
My eight-year-old mind stood paralyzed in fear. Not of the images projected from grim television broadcasts, but from the unseen horrors of newly orphaned peers and classmates who would be forced to choke down the image of an abruptly vacated seat at the dinner table.
The world began to change in small, yet conspicuous ways.
The imam of our local mosque had to leave the country, my mother's head scarf garnered blatant looks of contempt, and my Muslim classmates began to shy away from their identity.
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It is coincidental that bin Laden's demise should come at a time when the youth of the world are finally embracing that identity, rejecting the spirits of radicalism and autocracy underscored by bin Laden's ideology.
Although a moving and symbolic victory, the killing of bin Laden was merely a blow to one of the many heads of the terrorist hydra.
Al-Qaida, and all forms of radicalism, remains a threat to the security and peace of the freedom-loving citizens of the world. But rather than being complacent in its success, America ought to contemplate the forever-changed foreign dynamic.
Much of the Muslim world remains deeply distrustful of America, and the festering discontent from years of conflict can't be sent into remission by the death of a single man.
The removal of bin Laden dealt a humiliating blow to the advocates of his fear-mongering, freedom-stifling agenda and provided new hope to the nascent Arab Spring.
The realization of the untapped potential of the marginalized youth of the world spawned a movement in which the ordinary citizens of countries like Egypt and Tunisia overthrew outdated and corrupt regimes. Contrary to al-Qaida's forecasts, the Arab youth have proven that dictatorial rulers can be removed without the need for American intervention.
The world,has suffered tremendously at the hands of leaders of the same strain as Osama bin Laden.
Yet the legacy of bin Laden is his prediction that the willpower of America can falter. Such claims are made without realizing the depth to which Americans hold this conviction that liberty far surpasses the tyrannical desires of an oppressive faction.
By burying that legacy along with his corpse, America has the ability to permanently put to rest the haunting specter of bin Laden.