I would like to start by answering my own question. The answer for me is yes. I was filled with such a deep sense of satisfaction/accomplishment when I was notified that I had passed. I felt that I had earned it and that I truly deserved it. I realize that there are people who feel that Cisco has made the exam too easy. That they have made it possible for technically inferior people to pass it with little or no experience. I can tell you that if I felt Cisco had "handed" me the certification, I would have refused to take it. I would not have been able to live with myself knowing that someone had just given it to me. Some may feel that the exam has become too easy (or easier than past versions). For others, it may be impossible to achieve for a variety of reasons.
My opinion is this:
I went through my own little personal hell to achieve this goal of mine. At the tail end of my pursuit, I was a better person/engineer for having done it. This is all I need to know. I don't need triple CCIE's or other respected 4 digit people to embrace my accomplishment or to bring credibility to my achievement. I survived one of the toughest Military boot camps in the world back in 1988. I remember feeling the same way after graduating. I remember feeling the same sense of accomplishment/satisfaction. There were people who went through boot camps long before I did during wartime that claimed that modern boot camps (like mine) were for whimps. This didn't bother me then and it doesn't bother me now with the CCIE discussions.
The bottom line for me is that I learned a lot about myself. I proved to myself once again that there is nothing I can't accomplish. No one will ever be able to steal my thunder in that respect with words or opinions. As far as technical ability, I didn't need the CCIE to prove anything. I was born with it. So, I don't mind people assuming that I'm technically inferior because I happen to have a 5 digit number.