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By Phil Piemonte

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9/11 story won't end with Osama bin Laden

A lot of people celebrated the demise of Osama bin Laden this week. Judging from comments reported in the press, more than a few folks are treating his death as though it somehow closes the book on the 9/11 attacks.

Right after Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, I emailed a Marine officer I knew who often worked there. No response. When I finally talked to him days later, he told me that he had scheduled two conflicting meetings the morning of Sept. 11. He had decided to attend the first half of one of them—at the Navy Annex up the hill from the Pentagon—then head back down to the Pentagon and try to catch the second half of the other one. Driving down the hill from the first meeting, a plane came in low over his car and crashed into the Pentagon, hitting the E Ring at the site of his second meeting.

I am pretty sure I know how he felt when he heard the news this week. But I also am pretty sure he doesn’t think anything is over.

Not many of us have a story like that, although many of us in the Washington area felt the explosion, saw the smoke, heard the sirens, and encountered the roadblocks. We watched and heard copters and fighter jets flying overhead for days on end. And for the first time, we saw police patrolling streets with automatic rifles, and soldiers posted along roads in Humvees outfitted with machine guns. Americans around the country saw the same thing on their TVs. And all of us knew that things had changed.

A former colleague, a journalist for a national magazine, was staying at a hotel across from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. She fled the building after the attack and, with the masses of people in the street, struggled among the debris through choking smoke and ash to Battery Park, convinced she would die. Boats finally came to take her and others across to Jersey City. She filed a short but gruesome eyewitness account for her magazine.

I imagine her reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death is far more complicated.

When you picked up the newspaper or turned on the TV Monday morning, what was your reaction? You probably have a story to share, too.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on May 03, 2011 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Wed, May 4, 2011 RVN 69-70 CIB

These colors don't run. We will find you. End of story. Nobody wins in a war. Even the winners loose. Sometimes it is the only way to address evil. It is a sobering event to take another’s life. Ask anyone who has been there; he or she will probably hesitate to tell you. Real heroes have either forfeited their lives or are hesitant to speak about it. Seal Team 6 got the job done. Good job.

Wed, May 4, 2011 Linda Joy Adams OK

Public enemy #1 had decades of victims! We have not all had justice yet. Their ' aiders and abettors who may think they are now ' safe.' Many of them have done me and my co-workers and surviving families much harm. Federal workers compensation needs to be changed so that victims of mass disasters/terrorist attacks are not counted in regional office budgets when our benefits and medical bills are paid. Also, jurisdiction should stay with the original US Dept of labor regional office rather than moving when the injured worker moves and trowing them into that regions' budget constraints which is what occurred when my New York case ended up in Dallas where budgets were out of control from the Murrah federal building bills. Why should our very lives be considered as a regional budget item anyway? Linda Joy Adams 1/89 victim, from the SSA TSC Jersey City, NJ

Wed, May 4, 2011 John Orlando

Happy, Satisified, pleased describe the thoughts that went through my mind as I heard the news. The President made the right choice and showed bold action in his use of the seal team. I know the global war is not over or that even a major victory can be declared. What I would love to see is our declaring an end to nation building and start bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afgan wars. Declare Victory and come home. Continue to use special forces and the CIA to kill these evil enemies of humanity.

Wed, May 4, 2011 Laura Moab, UT

Terrorism such as the gruesome tactics of the al Quida will never end as the United States is easy pickings because of what we stand for and because we have an open country. It is sad that we have to fight a never ending fight to maintain our freedom, but our determination to maintain that freedom will also never end.

Wed, May 4, 2011

I am surprised at the average age of the people who were celebrating in New York and the White House. They were so young. I am having mixed feelings, it is good to know he is gone but like others have said this is not the end. What he started will continue and no one knows if or when it will end. My family and I watched everything that happened that day and it is not something a person will ever forget. God Bless the Navy Seals, the military and our elected/appointed officials who oversaw this operation.

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