It was one of those surreal days in New York, the kind where you know everyone is thinking the same thing: The U.S. killed the man who orchestrated Gotham’s darkest day.
As the reality of Osama bin Laden's death set in, the jubilation that sent thousands to Ground Zero in the wee hours morphed into a somber appreciation that after 10 long years, a small touch of closure has been afforded the city.
But despite that initial euphoria, the notion that trouble may yet await us is hard to dismiss.
"Ten years ago a terrible evil visited this place," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday at Ground Zero. "Today, let the spirits that are all around us know some peace and justice."
Bin Laden's death may help to close a decade-old wound ripped open when terrorists killed 2,752 people at the Twin Towers.
“Coming here, this is my closure,” said Al Montano, 52, of Manhattan, a contractor who said he worked in the rubble for four months after the attacks. “I haven’t been here since 2002. I couldn’t.”
But for the city's 20-somethings, a group that has only known terror alerts and airport pat-downs and 24-hour TV war coverage, bin Laden's death marked a turning point in their short lives, as they came out in droves to mark the moment.
"This is a huge victory for our generation," said Trevor Volpe, 19, of the Financial District. "We've been waiting for a conclusion for this for so long, and finally we're actually got it. It's a release after so many years," he said at Ground Zero.
Parts of Sunday night's celebratory atmosphere lingered in spots, and conversations on street corners easily gravitated back to the news.
Some inventive merchants seized the moment to peddle certain wares, such T-shirt a coffee mug that says "Justice Served" or a baby bib that says "Obama: 1; Osama: 0."
An increased police presence could be seen at some points across the city yesterday, a reminder of the possibility of retaliation.
No New Yorkers were thinking for a second this was the defining coda of a conflict, like VJ Day at the end of World War II. This war is not over, and unlike World War II, it’s been fought on our streets.
“Maybe now people can start recovering,” said Bennie Rodriguez, 40, of Huntington, a construction inspector for the 9/11 memorial site he said yesterday. “But I can’t really believe it. I couldn’t sleep last night. I’m not sure what it means.”
(with Emily Ngo and Newsday)