Families of 9/11 victims say justice was done

McClatchy NewspapersMay 2, 2011 

WASHINGTON — Nearly 10 years later, Richard Murach said he still feels numb over the loss of his brother, Robert, who died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's just one of those things that becomes a part of your life," said Murach, 51. "You can't escape it. ... My brother Bobby was a great guy."

Beverly Burnett, 80, of Northfield, Minn., said that every day she still misses her son, Tom Jr., who died aboard United Flight 93 in a field in southwest Pennsylvania after helping lead an attack against the hijackers.

"Any parent who has lost a child knows what I'm talking about," she said. "There's no closure on that."

Like many survivors across the nation, Murach and Burnett found solace on Monday, agreeing with President Barack Obama that justice had been done with the killing of Osama bin Laden.

"I'm glad he's gone," said Murach, who early in the morning hung a flag with the names of all of the 9/11 victims outside his home in Red Bank, N.J.

Murach's brother, a senior vice president for Cantor Fitzgerald, was 45 when he died. Murach said the surgical U.S. strike that resulted in bin Laden's death "gave me a lot of faith back in our government."

He said he felt both jubilation, and fear that the killing could result in retaliation and more conflict. When he heard the news, he went to wake his wife and give her a hug.

"I actually slept very well last night," he said. "They need to get the number two guy now. It's going to be a never-ending task until all terrorism is gone, but certainly this was a start."

Burnett's son was a 38-year-old executive for a California medical device company. He emerged as a hero after he helped overpower the hijackers, preventing them from reaching their presumed target — the White House, the U.S. Capitol or the CIA headquarters.

She called the killing of bin Laden "a good first step," adding: "There are lots of people out there that want to kill us, and we have to find them. ... It's going to take us a long time to round up the evildoers."

Burnett said she was surprised that Navy SEALs were able to conduct the operation without any of them getting killed.

"God bless America," she said. "Thanks to the Navy SEALs and the CIA for doing their job, and doing it so efficiently. Now let's get the rest of them."

The news brought back many emotions for survivors.

At first, Elinor Stout said she felt disbelief. She was in the shower when her husband hollered that bin Laden was dead. What a cruelty, she responded, if it turned out that weren't true. Her son, Timothy, died on the 103rd floor of the North Tower.

"We hadn't heard anything for so long, I thought Osama bin Laden would just fade off into the mountains," said Stout, of Concord, Mass. "I had just given up all hope."

When the realization set in that bin Laden was dead, Stout said, she watched CNN and wept.

In New Jersey, Jill Regan, 32, watched on the news as crowds cheered and waved flags outside the White House. Her father, Donald Regan, was a New York City firefighter who died when he responded to the attacks. In the past decade, he has missed the marriages of three of his children. He never met his two granddaughters.

"At first I thought, 'What are we celebrating?'" Regan said. "Because there's people behind him, people who will take over for him."

But, she added: "I'm glad that the man that murdered my father is gone. It doesn't bring my dad back. It's kind of one of those things where, you want to ask the person who hurt you the most, 'Why? Why did you hate us so much?'"

Lee Hanson, 78, of Easton, Conn., lost his son Peter, his daughter-in-law ,Sue, and his granddaughter, Christine, who were aboard United Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center. He said he had mixed feelings about bin Laden's killing.

"I'm glad the United States has done this," he said. "Still, it doesn't bring our children back, and the pain is still there."

He called bin Laden a man "who betrayed his own religion" and who didn't represent most Muslims.

Hanson remembers seeing footage of bin Laden after the attacks and thinking, "I've come face to face with evil."

Tim Brown, 48, a retired New York City firefighter who survived when the towers collapsed, said he felt "proud to be an American" because of the news. But he said he still grieves for dozens of friends and colleagues killed on 9/11.

"I'm very happy with the performance of this country," he said. "I did not realize this president had it in him to do this, and he proved yesterday that he does have it in him."

But the news was somber, too, he said.

"At first it's kind of elated, because ... we've waited for this moment for nearly 10 years," Brown said. "And then as soon as that kind of sinks in, you realize it doesn't matter, and it gets very sad."

(Marisa Taylor contributed to this story.)

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