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9/11 families react to bin Laden death

John Vigiano in his Deer Park home with

John Vigiano in his Deer Park home with pictures of his two NYC firefighter sons John and Joe Vigiano. (June 7, 2002) Credit: Newsday / Dick Yarwood

They lost brothers, sons, daughters, mothers. And Sunday night, families of some 9/11 victims on Long Island said they finally felt a sense of justice, however bittersweet, in the news that the leader of al-Qaida was dead.

John Vigiano of Deer Park lost two sons -- a firefighter and a police officer -- that day. "Right now I have no feeling of joy. No feeling of happiness, not even any satisfaction," he said late Sunday night. Still, "he got what he deserved," said Vigiano. "I hope he suffered as much as we did."

Bryan Rosen of Astoria, whose father, Mark Rosen, died at the World Trade Center while working for Sandler O'Neill and Partners, was relieved when his friend texted him Sunday night with the news. "The first three to four years I have had anger and hatred," said Rosen, who was only 16 when his father died. "But I haven't been thinking about catching bin Laden in the last few years. I've gone past that."

Kathy Ugalde of Deer Park, whose father, Raymond Downey, chief of rescue operations for the FDNY, was killed, said her emotions ran the gamut from relief to sadness.

"Ten years later, I feel a sense of relief to know they got the person who murdered my father," she said.

Ugalde said she was sitting with her mother, Rosalie, watching President Barack Obama's address. "I got a bit of adrenaline rush. . . . I'm still trying to take it all in. I feel sad. I feel like crying."

Rosemary Cain of Massapequa lost her son George, 35, also a firefighter. Cain, who gives tours at Ground Zero and tells people about those who died, said justice had been done at the news of bin Laden's death. "It makes me sad it didn't happen 10 years earlier. There is justice for our boys. There's one less evil person in the world."

Talat Hamdani of Lake Grove, who lost her son Salman, 23, a police cadet, said bin Laden's death "would not bring happiness to the relatives of the nearly 3,000 who died, but as a nation we delivered."

Speaking of Obama's address, she added: "He spoke so well about the victims. It made me proud to be an American."

While crowds took to the street of Washington, D.C., Sunday night, cheering at the White House gates, many of the 9/11 families took in the reports more quietly at their homes. Some were awakened to the news.

William McCarthy of Huntington, who lost his 33-year-old son, Michael, who worked at Carr Futures, said getting bin Laden was simple justice. "Somebody had to be held accountable," he said. "He has to pay the price and if it entails his death, so be it."

If they felt justice had been done, though, many thought of those they lost, and how little difference this would make to their own grief.

"I do think it was something that had to be done, but all those poor souls, it will not bring them back," said Joan Dwyer of Smithtown, whose son Patrick, 37, perished. Dwyer was a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald.

And if they were relieved, some family members also were convinced bin Laden's death would bring no lasting peace. "It's not going to end terror," said Kitty Grinnell of Centereach, who lost her brother Jimmy, a Port Authority police officer, on Sept. 11. "Somebody else will pick up and carry out their cause. I am glad, but I don't think it's the end of everything."

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