New Jersey Residents, Officials React: Osama bin Laden Dead
In a state where hundreds died as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks, the word of the Al Qaida leader's death spread swiftly.
Despite the late hour, the news of Osama bin Laden's death spread rapidly across New Jersey Sunday evening.
Reaction was swift and almost universal: Exultation that one of the United States' most elusive foes was dead, and dead as a result of U.S. action.
Four people from Verona and Cedar Grove lost their lives in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. William John Erwin, 30, of Verona; Stephen Louis Roach, 36, of Verona; Norman S. Rossinow, 39, of Cedar Grove; and John Ernst "Jack" Eichler, 69, of Cedar Grove.
Around Essex County, residents reacted to the news.
"It's been a long time coming," said Cheryl Desmarais of Millburn, whose husband Mark Charette died in the World Trade Center. "You know I'm not sure what the right word is. 'Happy' is a funny word to use. But this is the man responsible for my husband's death. This needed to be done. They needed to capture him or kill him and I'm glad they have. I think it's a huge blow to terrorism."
"Closure is the word everyone uses. But it's a hard word to use when my husband, the father of my children is gone. He's gone every day. That doesn't change. But it was an open piece -- this person out there was eluding us. I don't know if you ever get closure with something like this, but it does bring closure to that piece of it. "
After being awakened and feeling disoriented, Desmarais turned on the news to see if what she had just heard was true and went downstairs to talk with her 18-year-old daughter who was still awake.
"On the news I saw the mother of someone who was killed who said she was so glad this will be the first anniversary where we won't hear a released tape from bin Laden, and that is so true," she said.
Desmarais said it was remarkable that the government got the intelligence in August and was not leaked and "they finally got him."
"It's just been so long in coming," she said. "It's not in the forefront in your mind anymore that we're still actively trying to find him. It's just amazing."
The spontaneous outpouring of celebrants into the streets at Ground Zero in Manhattan, the White House and elsewhere around the country upon learning of the news was not seen during a brief drive through Montclair and West Orange, but shortly before 2 a.m., two local women were found paying respects at the Sept. 11 memorial at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, which overlooks the Manhattan skyline.
Anna Grasso, of Verona, said she was cautiously optimistic about the Al Queda leader's demise.
"I think its about time, and I'm glad that for once it's us celebrating in the streets. It's doesn't bring closure and it's not going to end anything, but at least now he's gone, and all we can hope for is that there's no one powerful enough to take his place."
Tina Pezzino, who lives in Caldwell but grew up in Cedar Grove, said she remembers friends from high school who had parents killed, or barely escape death, on Sept. 11.
"I think it's good that he's gone, and don't think anyone's death is worth celebrating, but I'll make an exception for this one."
In an extraordinary address, President Obama interrupted almost every U.S. TV channel to announce the news.
While he did not provide details, he said that the U.S. has been tracking bin Laden for months and finally located him in a residence in Pakistan. After a firefight, the president said, bin Laden was killed, with no loss of U.S. lives.
"This is a huge win against the war on terror, but its far from over!" said Davita Cross-Waiters, from West Orange. "Very proud to be an American, God bless the U.S. Military and our president!"
David S. Lee, 37, of West Orange, was killed in the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001.
The office of Sen. Robert Menendez issued a statement, praising U.S. efforts in bringing the 9/11 mastermind to justice.
"Although Osama Bin Laden’s demise will not end terrorist threats, his death is a significant blow to the leadership of the al-Qaeda organization and sends the message that the U.S. will find, destroy and dismantle al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations that seek to threaten the United States and its citizens at home or abroad," he said early Monday.
Adding his voice to the chorus of officials who have reacted to the news this evening was Gov. Chris Christie, who said, "I want to commend President Obama's Administration for its commitment and dedication to finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice."
He added, "There is hardly a life that has gone untouched in New Jersey by the horrifying assault on American soil that took place on September 11th and today, after years of waiting, justice has finally been delivered."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg also issued a statement, saying, "People across the civilized world will have great satisfaction and relief with news of the death of Osama bin Laden, one of the worst killers in the history of man."
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