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For New Yorkers, a sense of some closure

By Elizabeth A. Harris
New York Times / May 2, 2011

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NEW YORK — In the midnight darkness, the crowds gathered, chanting and cheering, waving American flags, outside the front gates of the White House. In Times Square, tourists poured out of nearby hotels and into the streets to celebrate with strangers.

In the shadow of the World Trade Center site, as the news of Osama bin Laden’s killing by American special operations forces spread, a police car drove north on Church Street blaring the sound of bagpipes from open windows. Officers raised clenched fists in the air.

“I don’t know if it will make us safer, but it definitely sends a message to terrorists worldwide,’’ said Stacey Betsalel, standing in Times Square with her husband, exchanging high fives. “They will be caught and they will have to pay for their actions. You can’t mess with the United States for very long and get away with it.’’

President Obama’s stunning announcement last night that the terrorist who had eluded capture for almost 10 years drew an outpouring of emotion from political figures and citizens alike.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, whose city bore the brunt of the 9/11 attack, said in a statement: “The killing of Osama bin Laden does not lessen the suffering that New Yorkers and Americans experienced at his hands, but it is a critically important victory for our nation — and a tribute to the millions of men and women in our armed forces and elsewhere who have fought so hard for our nation.

“New Yorkers have waited nearly 10 years for this news. It is my hope that it will bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.’’

In Westchester, Harry Waizer, a World Trade Center survivor, paused nearly a minute before he began to speak when reached by phone. “If this means there is one less death in the future, then I’m glad for that,’’ said Waizer. “But I just can’t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.’’

In lower Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Center, some people felt drawn to the spot where almost 3,000 people lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

The mood on the street was more jubilant in Times Square, where a crowd of about 100 people stood, using cellphones to snap pictures of the news ABC news bulletin scrolling high above Broadway: “Al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden Killed.’’

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