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Queens rejoices at bin Laden’s death but remembers his victims

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The news that U.S. military forces killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan Sunday imbued Queens residents and elected officials with a mix of emotions.

Hundreds of New Yorkers headed straight to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan immediately following the announcement late Sunday night. They joined together, cell phones and cameras raised high, to sing the national anthem, chant “U-S-A” and bask in the shadow of the rising Freedom Tower, under construction in the gaping hole left behind by the Twin Towers.

Courtney Goodloe, who is now a Long Island resident but lived in Astoria and Rego Park for many years, worked as an assistant district attorney in Queens DA Richard Brown’s office for six years that spanned Sept. 11, 2001. Years before that, she worked at a financial firm at 140 Broadway and took the subway to the World Trade Center each morning.

Goodloe was visiting a friend, Eric Johnson, in Manhattan Sunday and the pair immediately traveled to the site to honor the memories of the many people she knew who lost loved ones in the attacks.

“We got him! For me it’s a little mixed. I was a prosecutor at the time in Queens, and I had a lot of friends whose family members were firefighters and police officers, and they went through things that were indescriba­ble,” she said. “We came here as soon as we heard the news.”

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) said in a statement that the moment will go down in history as a pivotal one for America.

“I applaud the efforts by President Obama, our national intelligence agencies and our international partners in this effort,” he said. “Although the death of Osama bin Laden will not bring back to life any of his innocent victims, we as Americans can take solace in knowing that al-Qaeda is no more.”

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said in a statement Sunday night that the day is one of triumph and closure for many, but it does not mean the war to end terrorism is over.

“I am so grateful to the men, women and their families who sacrifice their lives for our daily freedom and for making tonight’s shocking news possible,” Meng said. “We still need to be just as alert and cautious — it is not the time to let our guard down. We should all feel really proud to be American.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 10:32 am, October 12, 2011
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