The build up to September 11th took place during the Clinton administration. On Monday, the former president was in San Diego reflecting on bin Laden's reign of terror.
"The headlines today obviously are all about the death of Osama Bin Laden (applause), and the feelings that America has that we have at least closed part of the chapter that began with the worst attack on our soil in history."
He was somber, somewhat reserved in his remarks about bin Laden, sprinkled lightly throughout a speech focusing on world instability, inequality and unsustainability.
This was no time for a talkative former President to upstage the current one -- whose forces finally succeeded in 'taking out' the fearsome face of terrorism.
"He wanted to live in a world where his version of the absolute truth governed everybody -- at least of his faith. And if not, you were less than human -- and vulnerable to death."
Mr. Clinton's listeners gleaned a variety of 'take-aways' from his thoughts on bin Laden.
"I think it's very important to make the distinction that the President made, that this is a man who was dedicated to killing people -- not that he was a person that represented a whole religion," said audience member Cindy Kagen.
Another audience member said bin Laden's death was bittersweet.
"It's actually exciting to finally have that part behind us, " said Carl Williams. "But I guess there'll be more retaliations. But I think as a country, we have to expect that and move forward and deal with it."
Others hope the death of bin Laden will mean more focus on issues here at home.
"I think for a lot of families that were directly impact, that allows them to move forward," said Cheryl Lennon-Armas. "I think for a lot of us, it allows us to put that behind us now and actually focus on things we need to focus on -- which is healthcare, hopefully better healthcare reform."
Sunday's military action was not the first attempt to capture Bin Laden. In 2000, following Al Qaeda bombings on U-S embassies in Africa, foreign operatives working for the CIA fired a rocket propelled grenade at a bin Laden convoy in Afghanistan -- missing his vehicle but hitting another.
The Clinton Administration cited a 'self-defense' exception to a prohibition against government-sponsored assassinations.