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ground zero 2011 New York Port Authority Officer Neil Simon stands guard beside flowers and pictures left in memory of lost friends and loved ones on the perimeter of ground zero Monday, May 2, 2011, in New York. (Photo: John Minchillo/AP Images)

Thoughts From Ground Zero

Visitors seek closure at site of 9/11 attacks

By Cecilia Gault | May 3 , 2011
A note to the U.S. Military attached to the fence of St. Paul's Cathedral in the shadow of the World Trade Center. Ten years ago, that fence was covered with pictures of loved ones missing in the 9/11 attacks. As events unfolded, the fence became home to letters of support from children all over the world for those working at the site. (Photo courtesy Cecilia Gault)
A note to the U.S. Military attached to the fence of St. Paul's Cathedral in the shadow of the World Trade Center. Ten years ago, that fence was covered with pictures of loved ones missing in the 9/11 attacks. As events unfolded, the fence became home to letters of support from children all over the world for those working at the site. (Photo courtesy Cecilia Gault)

Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan became a major gathering place for thousands of people from almost the minute President Barack Obama announced the death of al Queda leader Osama bin Laden Sunday night. They joined scores of journalists who came to pay their respects to those who died in the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the terrorist attack that killed almost 3,000 people that day.

"I am glad bin Laden was finally caught, but I see no cause for celebration," said Ruth Ohman, a local community board member and longtime resident of the area. "I was around on VJ Day (Victory in Japan during World Ward II) and that was something to celebrate because it meant the end of a terrible war."

Wally Goodwin and Loriann Moresca of Staten Island were in the sixth grade when the terrorist attacks happened. When they heard the news about bin Laden's death, they went to nearby St. Paul's Chapel. St. Paul's, which sat in the shadow of the 110-story buildings, was undamaged in the attack.

"This is closure, this is 10 years of waiting to capture this man," said Moresca, who lost her 29-year-old cousin on 9/11. "Ten years was too long to wait."

Catherine McVay Hughes has lived one block from the World Trade Center for 20 years. Now the Vice Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1 and Chair of the World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee, she was taking her two sons to school when the planes hit the towers.

"The defeat of the mastermind of September 11th is welcome news after almost a decade," she told Scholastic News. "However, this does not mean that we can go back to our lives before September 11, 2001. Terrorism is not dead."

Thomas Goodkind came to celebrate when he heard the chants of "Obama Got Osama," coming from Ground Zero.

"I felt I had to be part of the victory," he said. Goodkind is a Lower Manhattan resident and community board member. "It brings closure. We have caught and killed the man responsible for attacking us, killing many, and causing many others long-term health problems. It also renews confidence in our President."

Belal Hossain, an NYC taxi driver and a practicing Muslim from Bangladesh, has lived in New York for 20 years.

"Ninety per cent of the Muslims in this world will be happy that bin Laden is gone," he said, adding that his religion did not approve of violence and murder. He predicted that democracy will continue to flourish in Islamic nations, citing recent popular revolts in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. "Islam is a religion of peace and it embraces democracy," he said.

Paul Hovitz, a retired public school teacher and co-chairman of the local Community Board Youth and Education Committee, was trying to get to his Lower Manhattan apartment from Staten Island on 9/11.

He remembers walking the final stretch home at 6 a.m. the next morning.

"I was walking along the river, tears streaming down my face as I had no idea what had become of my family," he said. "Thank the Lord they were fine, just dusty." On bin Laden's death he said, "I see it as a kind of closure."

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