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ABSTRACT Making meaning out of negative experiences is one of the primary psychological challenges in the wake of adversity. Much of the empirical attention that psychologists have paid to meaning making has focused on personal hardships, but national tragedies similarly pose a challenge to meaning making. In the present study, which is grounded in the theoretical tradition of the narrative study of lives, a nationally representative sample of 395 adults wrote accounts about the 9/11 terrorist attacks approximately 2 months after 9/11. Accounts were coded for 3 narrative themes: closure, redemption, and contamination. Psychological well-being was significantly related to accounts that were high in closure and national redemption and, among those more directly exposed to the attacks, accounts high in redemptive imagery. Psychological distress was significantly related to accounts that were low in closure and high in themes of personal contamination. Understanding the narrative styles that characterize personal accounts of political events has important ramifications for the study of the socially embedded individual.