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It all started on Sept. 11, 2001.

Scott Lundell was a husband and a father, and by all accounts he was very good at both of those roles. But as he watched the towers fall — and later as he watched his fellow Americans march off to war in response — he was restless.

He wanted to do his part.

And so it was that, at age 32, Lundell signed on with the Utah National Guard.

Two years later he was dead. And although his wife, Jeanine, has never doubted the cause for which her husband fought and died, she has always longed for something concrete upon which to hang his flag.

And on Sunday, she got it.

Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida mastermind leader who ordered the terrorist strikes that killed nearly 3,000 Americans and sparked a war that has lasted a decade and still continues in Afghanistan, had been killed.

"Finally," Jeanine Lundell said, "it feels like we've accomplished what we went to Afghanistan to do. It feels like a little bit of closure."

Kim Olsen agreed. It's been just over a year since her son, Nigel, was killed in Afghanistan. And as American support for that war has waned, she has worried about how his legacy would be upheld.

"Now though, I feel so grateful," she said. "It feels as though we actually did something that you can mark down and say, 'Yes, Osama bin Laden is gone.' Yes, this is a day I'll remember for a very, very long time. It feels almost as though it is our first victory."

Olsen noted that her son is one of more than 1,500 Americans who have given their lives in Afghanistan. "And I wouldn't be surprised if Nigel was there, on the other side, waiting to escort that man to hell," she said. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a few thousand military men and women there, on the other side, to greet him and make sure he got to the right place."

Amos Guiora, who lectures on terrorism and national security at the University of Utah, said bin Laden's death, while a welcome development in America's long war on terror, does not signify any sort of victory.

"The hunt for bin Laden had long ago become more important politically than strategically," Guiora said. "This will not change our strategy for dealing with terrorism and counter-terrorism."

Neither, he said, will it end the war in Afghanistan. "But there is symbolic importance," he said. "We can say, 'finally.' "