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For Queens, This Is Personal

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The entire nation was shaken by the devastation Osama bin Laden unleashed Sept. 11, 2001, but nowhere was the pain more felt than in Queens. On that day, 76 Queens firefighters were killed as they bravely rushed into what was left of the Twin Towers. Many more Queens residents also died when bin Laden sent planes crashing into the World Trade Center.

We have waited nine years and 232 days to hear the words “Osama bin Laden has been killed.” Because of this man, thousands of children will grow up without their father or mother. Some will graduate with an empty chair in the auditorium. Some will play baseball without a dad to cheer them on.

Although we join the nation in celebrating the killing of this man, we know that throughout Queens the news has reawakened the pain many families have had to live with. Had bin Laden been killed a hundred times, it would not be enough. But what happened on Sunday was a start.

Late Sunday night, President Barack Obama explained what the brave men in U.S. Special Operations had accomplished: “Americans did not choose this fight. It came to our shores. Justice has been done.”

For the first time since the days following the attack on the World Trade Center, there was a feeling of national unity. There were celebrations at Ground Zero, Times Square and across the street from the White House. Bin Laden was a symbol of the hatred that has kept our country on high alert. In New York City, the threat of terrorism has changed our lives.

This day has been long in coming. On Sunday night, former President George W. Bush welcomed the report that bin Laden was dead.

“The fight against terror goes on,” he said. “Tonight, America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

Obama, who made sure the killing of bin Laden remained the military’s highest priority, and the U.S. Navy Seals, who risked storming the compound in Pakistan, deserve the praise of a nation.

We hope the news that bin Laden is dead will be of comfort to the Queens families whose lives were forever changed by the loss of brothers, sisters, husbands, children and other relatives on that clear September morning.

Updated 10:40 am, October 12, 2011
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