The United States marked a major victory in the war against terrorism, wild weather caused extensive damage across the country and two high profile court cases captured the attention of America.
Here's a look at the top national stories of 2011.
Navy Seals took down America's most wanted man in a nighttime raid in Pakistan.
"The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden," President Obama announced. Spontaneous celebrations broke out across the country nearly a decade after bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks.
The nation stopped to mark the 10 year anniversary in September and the memorial at Ground Zero opened.
A few months later, the last U.S. troops came home from Iraq as the war ended after nearly nine years.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fought for her life after a gunman shot her in the head in Tucson, Arizona. Jared Loughner is charged with attempted assassination and six murders. Giffords is making a slow but steady recovery. (See CBS 5's complete coverage).
A sex scandal and alleged cover-up rocked Penn State and its famous football program. Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is charged with sexually assaulting ten boys from a charity he founded. Penn State fired legendary football coach Joe Paterno for not going to police when he was told about an alleged assault. (Click here for more on the story).
The Occupy Wall Street movement grew out of frustration over economic inequality.
Wild weather made 2011 the costliest year ever for natural disasters.
In April, tornadoes killed more than three hundred people across the central and southern states and a twister leveled most of Joplin, Missouri one month later.
At the Indiana State Fair, seven people were killed when the stage collapsed in a storm before a Sugarland concert.
A rare earthquake rattled the east coast, cracking the top of the Washington monument.
Casey Anthony was acquitted in the death of her daughter, Caylee.
A judge sentenced Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray to the maximum four years behind bars for involuntary manslaughter.
"We'll never be satisfied because Michael's never coming back," said Jermaine Jackson, Michael's brother.
New York became the sixth and largest state to legalize same sex marriage.
The July launch of Atlantis marked the final voyage of the space shuttle program.
Copyright 2011 CBS News. All rights reserved. KPHO contributed to this report.