9/11 Victims' Family Members Reflect On Osama Bin Laden's Death
This story was written and reported in collaboration with our partners at Patch.com.
Across the country today, family members of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks responded to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. Some said they felt closure; others said closure was something they could never truly attain. In neighborhoods and towns from the New York suburbs to the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, people who’d lost friends or relatives spoke with reporters from Patch.com about the death of the man who’d orchestrated the killings of their loves ones.
In the Santa Cruz Mountains, a mother said she felt a “little bit of closure.” Her son was one of the passengers who helped bring down United Airlines Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania.
Her words were echoed by Dewey Loselle, a resident of Westport, CT who was on the 63rd floor of Tower 1 when the plane struck.
In Newtown, MA, Afkham Salie, the manager of a family-owned café and bakery, spoke about his sister, Rahma, who died with her husband on Flight 11 months before they were to become parents. “She was extraordinary,” he said. “She was like the glue in our family.”
In Warren, NJ, Jill Pila, whose husband, James Gartenberg, was killed in the attacks, described her feeling as “heavy-hearted relief.”
Across the state, Corinne Krachtus, whose sister Daphne Pouletsos of Westwood died in the South Tower, said, "We were very happy to hear it. Especially that it was up close and personal instead of a bomb."
She added that her father, who died last year, "would've really enjoyed hearing this.”
In Rancho Santa Margarita, a town in Orange Country, CA, Tom Frost “breathed a sigh of relief” when a reporter told him the news. His daughter, Lisa Frost, had been on the second plane to hit the towers. She was 22.
Martin Henderson, a reporter for Patch.com, wrote that Frost was taken aback:
“At first, the Rancho Santa Margarita man wasn't sure what to think. Is he really dead? How do they know? Did he die of kidney disease?
But when confirmation started scrolling across the bottom of his television screen, Frost felt a measure of relief.
‘Well good, at least we’ve got that one closed out,’ he said. ‘I’m glad the top dog finally got his comeuppance. He thought he was pretty well bulletproof. Good. At least there has been some justice here, that he didn’t just die on his own.’”
Although many families were in a somber mood today, relatives of Max J. Beilke, a resident of North Laurel, MD, who died in the Pentagon, said they were "overjoyed.”
Sylvia Hess, Beilke’s daughter, told a reporter that she stayed up all night watching news reports.
“It was sort of numbing,” she said. “It was surreal that this actually happened … I stayed up all night and celebrated. It called for a drink.”
Lisa Jordan, a resident of Westhampton, NY, whose husband, a firefighter, died in the towers just days before their fourth child was born, said she was glad about bin Laden’s death but didn’t exactly feel comforted.
“I think someone is going to take his place,” she said. “Someone is waiting in the wings. This is great -- but what’s going to happen now?”
In a video for the Patch site in Towson, MD, Kathryn McNeal spoke about her son, Dan, who died at the age of 29 trying to escape the South Tower, where he worked as a vice president at an investment firm on the 104th floor.
In an article accompanying the video, the reporters, Tyler Waldman and Nick DiMarco, wrote that the young man’s bedroom in his mother’s home “looks much as it might have 10 years ago. Awards and photographs hang on the wall. His wallet, with a New York City subway card still pristine inside, sits by the door.”