Around New York, the wounds of Sept. 11 have been reopened yet again, this time for a piece of welcome news. Here are 19 dispatches from a galvanized city.
Moments after Osama bin Laden left the world, Cassidy Mosher, 28, brought new life into it. She said it was hard for her to rejoice in Bin laden’s death after the birth of her son Zain Mosher Littles at 12:09 a.m. Monday at Roosevelt Hospital.
“I hear there’s a lot of celebrating going on,” said Ms. Mosher, who works with costumes and wardrobes for film and television. “I must say this person did horrible things to thousands of people but it’s hard to celebrate someone’s death when you have life coming into yours. No matter what somebody does, taking a solemn moment when somebody dies is important.”
Elsewhere in the maternity ward, Tanisa Williams, a lawyer, wondered whether the world truly would be a safer place for her second child, JaDon Freddrick Jackson, born Sunday afternoon. “What will happen to the world?” Ms. Williams pondered. “It’s interesting whether that day will have significance in his life because of the person who died that day. ” Like the other mother, Ms. Mosher, she avoided speaking Bin Laden’s name. — ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
As he drove up West Street on Sunday, Martin T. Fullam, a retired fire lieutenant who responded to the terrorist attacks, marveled at the new Freedom Tower rising from the ruins around the World Trade Center. “I was kind of impressed,” he said Monday. “It was a Sunday afternoon and they were working, but I really hadn’t thought about that in a while.”
It was like an omen. He was jolted back to the past again later that night, when he heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been captured and killed. But Lieutenant Fullam, who retired from the Fire Department after 27 years in December 2008 after being diagnosed with a rare connective tissue disease, polymyositis, and lung disease, felt strangely ambivalent.
“I thought eventually he would get caught,” said Lieutenant Fullam, the father of three children. “He definitely doesn’t deserve to be on this planet. To me he’s like a serial killer.” But, he added, “I would say my life is more important now.”
Lieutenant Fullam, 55, had a lung transplant in 2009 and spent a month in the hospital last year, after testifying about his condition to a Senate subcommittee. Asked to describe his life, he said, “I go back and forth to doctors. I pretty much do that full time.”
He was working at Engine 10, Ladder 10, across the street from the World Trade Center, on Sept. 11, but was elsewhere when the buildings fell and arrived at about noon. He said he held Bin Laden responsible for his illness, but has moved on. “I would blame him,” he said. “As far as enraged, that part is over and done with, and he’s over and done with. I just hope there’s no retaliation over him being killed.” — ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
For the 54 firefighters who work at Engine 54, Ladder 4, each entrance to the firehouse, at Eighth Avenue at 48th Street, is a reminder of the 15 colleagues they lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“They’re never far from our thoughts,” said Andrew Sforza, 42, a firefighter in the firehouse. “Any given day, you might be in a crowd and you think you hear their laugh. You’d swear they’re right there.”
Or as Firefighter John Fila, 46, of Rockland County, put it, they were “the biggest cast of characters you could imagine — every one of them had such a different personality, but to a man they all loved their jobs.”
Those 15 men have their names and faces memorialized in several tributes on the facade of the firehouse. The firehouse calls itself “The Pride of Midtown,” a nickname emblazoned on the gleaming firetrucks along with its logo “Never Missed a Performance” – a reference to the Theater District that is part of its coverage area. It is part of a West Side battalion of three firehouses that lost a total of 38 firefighters on 9/11.
“It was a big hit for the West Side of Manhattan,” Firefighter Fila said Monday, referring to the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.
Monday morning was quiet and contemplative, firefighters said. There was no jubilation.
“It was very quiet and somber,” said Firefighter Sforza, 42. “The guys walked in and all kind of looked at each other.”
There were simple nods, he recalled, to indicate that they had heard the news, that the elusive terrorist mastermind behind the 2001 attacks was dead – that, “Yes, they got him.”
Firefighter Sforza said no one was feeling overjoyed but he could not help walking into his chief’s office and giving a short pump of his fist. The chief nodded in agreement and gave a quiet but celebratory, “Yeah.”
Thomas Venditto, the engine captain for the firehouse, said he was in his office doing paper work in the firehouse on Sunday night when someone shouted to him that Bin Laden was dead.
“I said, ‘We’ll see about that,’ ” he recalled. He saw the news and then said to himself, “It’s about time.”
Captain Venditto, 49, of Westchester, said he remained somber about the news, at least until he ventured onto the street. Then his attitude brightened upon seeing the public reaction to the news. He and the other firefighters on duty Sunday night stopped by Times Square, where New Yorkers and tourists from around the world rejoiced. The firefighters sat on a wooden barricade in all their gear and exulted at the news ticker overhead that spelled out the news. There was more energy in the crowd than on New Year’s Eve, Captain Venditto said.
The crowd’s reaction “kind of brought a tear to my eye,” he said. “They kissed us and hugged us and took pictures and cheered us on.”
Family members of the firefighters killed on 9/11 visited the firehouse on Monday, and so did Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, to pay his respects to what he called “probably the busiest firehouse in the world.” In a reminder that a terrorist threat persists in New York City, these firefighters were the primary first-responders a year ago to the car bomb in Times Square.
Commissioner Cassano spoke about the 15 lost firefighters and their families, saying that he felt that, “a bit of comfort that the person responsible for their sorrow had been brought to justice.”
He added that they probably “feel a little better today than they did yesterday afternoon.”
Firefighter Fila was off duty on September 11, 2001, after having switched shifts with Chris Santora, who wound up dying at Ground Zero.
He was asked his reaction upon hearing the news on Sunday night.”
“It was a good thing for about three seconds, but then the other thing is where we work — in this firehouse, we’re the biggest target in this country,’’ Firefighter Fila said. “When’s the next thing going to happen? That’s what we worry about.”
Firefighter Lenny Sieli, who was traveling into Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry on September 11, 2001, said he was proud of the armed forces for finding bin Laden but added that it hardly provides a happy ending to a story that began in 2001.
“He’s gone now,” he said. “It doesn’t change anything. There are still people out there trying to harm us.”
“I doesn’t close anything,” he said. “Maybe it ends a chapter in this long story.” — COREY KILGANNON
It was not an easy day to be a New Yorker who practices Buddhism, said Ethan Nichtern, 32, who is director of a Buddhism teaching center in the East Village called the Interdependence Project. “My initial reaction is like everyone else’s — this is a good thing,” he said about the killing of Osama bin Laden. “But Buddhism says there is no monster that exists on his own, without cause. And that every living thing is sacred, including monsters. So I would chalk this up as one of the most intensely confusing moments for Buddhists so far in the 21st century.”
That was a common sentiment among Buddhists interviewed yesterday in Manhattan, several of whom said that the general jubilation was understandable, but misplaced.
“This should not be a joyous occasion, ” said Linas Vytuvis, vice president of the Kagyu Dzamling Kunchab Center, a Tibetan Buddhist center on Columbus Ave. “There is no way of hurting or killing someone without creating a karmic come-back. You may believe that killing a man who is intent on killing others is a necessary act, as I believe it was in this case. But you cannot escape the karmic effects of the act itself,” he added, referring to the principle in Buddhism and Hinduism that says, basically, that all human action creates consequences for the person who carries it out.
Ganden Thurman, executive director of Tibet House on West 15th Street, had to contemplate the news of Bin Laden’s death while making arrangements for a visit by the Dalai Lama in less than two weeks. The Tibet House is the Tibetan leader’s home base when he is in New York. For the Dalai Lama’s visit, Mr. Thurman was organizing a three-day conference on nonviolence in Newark on May 13. Between calls, he said the Bin Laden killing was a question of “something bad and something less bad.”
Killing is bad, he said, but its badness is mitigated if it is done to stop a killer. “We are not pacifists; we believe in nonviolence, which is different,” he said. “Buddhism is about improving the way we make choices. Sometimes one’s choices are limited.” — PAUL VITELLO
By mid-afternoon, ground zero had become a gathering place for the curious and the mourning, for the triumphant and the somber, for the tourists snapping pictures and the New Yorkers who thought this day would never come, and even for the savvy vendors.
One man shuffled through hawking miniature American flags. Hours later, he was back again, this time with more flags and a color printout affixed to his chest — a picture of the Statue of Liberty holding Bin Laden’s severed head, dripping blood.
Chris Hasson, 41, came from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, carrying the most patriotic flowers he could find — a large bouquet of red, white and blue blossoms, for his big brother, Joseph John Hasson III, who died in the September 11 attacks.
“I think evil has been taken down by good,” he said, wearing a button with his brother’s smiling face on it, and a threadbare T-shirt commemorating him as well. “God bless our armed forces.”
Celeste Moyers, 28, carried eight red and pink roses tied with a big purple bow. Walking slowly and solemn faced along Church Street, she said she was up from Dallas visiting a friend and had come to pay her respects to the victims of 9/11.
“I’m just sad,” she said. “I just hope that the people who lost loved ones in 9/11 have some modicum of restitution.”
Mr. Hasson scanned the fence at ground zero for a place to leave his flowers, but news crews and reporters kept surrounding him, asking for his message to the Navy Seals (“God bless ya, go Navy, we love you,” he said) and how he was feeling a day after President Obama announced that Bin Laden had been killed (“I do thank our government for enacting us a bit of vengeance,” he said).
Dressed in red jackets, blue jeans and American flag shirts, Marion and Marshall Novack had come down from Riverdale in the Bronx to “be as close as possible to ground zero, to be with the people, to see the beginnings of the Freedom Tower going up,” Ms. Novack explained.
For them, Sept. 11 felt especially personal.
“I was down here when smoke and flames were coming out of the towers and the innocent were running out and the brave were running in, and we thought this would be the place to celebrate freedom and love destroying hated and lies,” Mr. Novack said.
The one thing they’d change?
“My only regret is that he didn’t suffer a fraction of what he’s made people in the world suffer,” Ms. Novack said. “Buried him at sea — polluted our waters.”
Even those who don’t support Mr. Obama managed to rustle up a few kind words for the commander in chief.
Kim Kirgan, 41, visiting from Mexia, Tex., recently joined the local fire department in her neighboring town of Groesbeck. She said she’s not a fan of the president — she didn’t vote for him, and she doesn’t “agree with him or his ethics” — but touring the 9/11 Memorial Site, just up the street from ground zero, she sighed and conceded that he had done a good job in taking out Bin Laden.
“I actually have to give credit where credit is due,” she said. “I do credit our president with finishing what they started on 9/11.” — ASHLEY PARKER
Kathleen Box’s 14-year-old son, Dalton, dozing in front of the television in his bedroom on Long Island Sunday night, was jolted awake by the sound of a name he had had known since he was a little boy and his father died at the World Trade Center: Osama bin Laden. He watched the first news bulletin for a moment, Ms. Box said. Then he yelled and ran into her room.
“The feeling was immediate elation,” she said. “I was like, he was an evil, evil man. So, yeah, there was a sense of joy and there was also a sense of reality. The reality is, we still have to go on with our daily lives. And that was the sadness that followed. I was up crying because the things we have to live with, what’s lost.”
Her husband, Gary Box, was a firefighter assigned to the Squad 1 firehouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He was 37 when Qaeda terrorists hijacked four jetliners and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
As the news sank in that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, some relatives of 9/11 victims said the painful memories of that day nearly 10 years ago came flooding back. Some cried. Some said they finally felt some small sense of closure. Some, like Mrs. Box, said their spirits lifted.
Bin Laden, Mrs. Box said, “didn’t care about their nationality or their religion. He was a murderous person. Yes, I have joy that he is gone from this earth, and I’m proud of our troops and impressed with what they’ve done. Dancing in the streets, maybe that’s not appropriate, but a sigh of relief, yes. I kissed my kids last night and we talked about it. There is a sense of relief that this murderer was brought to justice.”
Monica Iken, who became one of the most outspoken advocates for victims’ families in the first year after the attacks, said she was surprised that Bin Laden had been found alive, and killed.
“I think I stopped thinking about him early on,” said Ms. Iken, who is on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. “I was so focused on the positive, on honoring Michael,” referring to her husband, a bond trader who was 37 in 2001. Bin Laden, she said, was “not somebody I needed to think about to do what I needed to do for Michael. He did the deed, and I was left without a husband. My focus was on doing something positive to heal.”
She said she had heard reports in the past that Bin Laden was ill. “I was thinking in my mind he’d just die of sickness or something,” she said. “Now the 10th anniversary is upon us almost, and it’s going to be a difficult one because a majority of us don’t have remains.”
Dale Maycen, whose stepdaughter Lindsay S. Morehouse was killed at the trade center, said the news had brought back painful memories — and brought on tears.
“I’m a man of 73 years old,” he said. “I don’t cry. I only cry about 9/11. You think back to that day 10 years ago, it’s a tough thing to think about.” Ms. Morehouse, who was 24 in 2001, was a research assistant for the securities firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.
“We all would have hoped that they would have got him earlier,” Mr. Maycen said, referring to Bin Laden. “My daughter was murdered, and we did the same to him. Hopefully it will bring the country closer to together.” — JAMES BARRON
Osama bin Laden was killed years ago — in Afghanistan, not Pakistan. He is still alive and protected by the United States government. Or the Pakistani government. The C.I.A. has known about his compound for years. He is hiding in the White House.
As soon as the news of Bin Laden’s death broke, the conspiracy mill began churning out alternatives to the narrative that President Obama offered in dramatic fashion on Sunday night. Many of them found traction in the city’s Little Pakistan, around Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn.
Even as the neighborhood hailed the news as the end of a violent and hateful era, halal butchers and kebab waitresses traded theories about “the real story” of Bin Laden.
“It’s all fake, brother,” said Zafar Ali, a clerk at a pharmacy on Coney Island Avenue. “It’s all politics, and I’m telling you the truth.”
Mr. Ali was one of several people who said unresolved questions were overshadowing the triumphant headlines.
“Why did they throw him in the sea? At least show people,” Mian Zain said as he chatted with other customers waiting for the butcher. “If they killed him, at least show the people photographs, like Saddam.”
“I don’t believe the news,” Mr. Zain continued. “It’s all about the biggest drama.” A busboy from Bangladesh standing nearby agreed. “Nobody sees him alive, nobody sees him dead,” he said.
Conspiracy theories abound everywhere — and certainly in the United States — but elaborate theories are especially popular in Pakistan, where they have long been considered something of a national pastime. Many Pakistani New Yorkers agreed Monday that the television anchors were telling only part of the story.
“Who is Bin Laden?” a bearded man wearing a checkered sport coat over a long, white robe shouted at a reporter. “He died a long time ago.”
Down the street, Farhat Arifa, a waitress who left Kabul for New York last year, said she was happy about the news, but did not quite know what to believe.
“A lot of people are saying that the U.S. government was protecting him and they just killed him when they wanted to,” she said. “It was all part of a big game. That’s what I think.”
A few neighborhoods away on the Arab strip on Atlantic Avenue, where Muslims from many countries congregate, Ali Salman, a Pakistani-American clerk at the Dar Us Salam bookstore, greeted Bin Laden’s death as “good news, because to us he was a person who had left the fold of Islam.”
But he wondered if it would make much difference.
“They achieved their goal,” Mr. Salman, 23, said of the American military, “but if you know history, you know that if you kill a man his revolution lives on. You cannot just fix things like that. We hope and pray for the best but his followers will be angry.”
— SAM DOLNICK and ALICE SPERI
In Broad Channel, Queens, a tight-knit waterfront neighborhood where many firefighters live and many died on 9/11, American flags hanging from front porches flapped in the overcast sky. There were no celebrations.
At the Bay Gull Store deli on Cross Bay Boulevard, the store’s owner, Terence Turbidy, said that Bin Laden’s death churned up bad memories of a time when “every day there was a funeral down here.”
Across from the deli, a retired firefighter, Tom Mundy, said that the day “triggers everything; it gets you thinking.”
His son Eric Mundy, himself an active firefighter, echoed Mr. Turbidy. “You won’t see people dancing in the streets,” the younger Mundy said as he watched the news coverage on the TV in his father’s living room. “We’re blue collar, and we know there’s more work to be done.”
He said that when he arrived at his father’s home Monday, he was greeted with a firm handshake and a simple assessment.
“We got him,” his father had said. — JASON TOMASSINI
When Daniel Arrigo, a former construction worker, read the news on a blog Sunday night, he was lying in bed, as he does most of the time, tethered to an oxygen tank.
“I saw ‘Osama bin Laden’ killed, and I was like, ‘What is this, a joke? ‘ ” Mr. Arrigo, 55, who lives in Long Beach, Long Island, said Monday. “I looked again. I put my glasses on. I read whatever information they had available, then I woke up my wife because she’s exhausted from not only taking care of the kids but taking care of me.”
Mr. Arrigo worked 15-hour shifts, seven days a week, mainly flagging trucks while breathing in soot and debris at the World Trade Center site for the first four or five months after the attacks. He had two strokes in 2003, and by 2008 was suffering from severe lung disease, for which he is being treated at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s World Trade Center health monitoring program. He is now dependent on respirators and eight medications a day, and hoping for a lung transplant.
He and his wife, Bridget, were so riveted by the capture that they stayed up most of the night, watching the president’s announcement and television accounts of the operation that killed the man who Mr. Arrigo said had turned the last nine and a half years of his life into a living hell. Because of his progressive illness, Mr. Arrigo, his wife and their three children had been evicted from their house; their two cars had been repossessed, and they had been forced to apply for welfare and food stamps, until he finally received workers’ compensation and disability insurance.
Mr. Arrigo said he was glad that he had lived long enough to see Bin Laden captured, but that it did not make up for the torment of having gone from a healthy 45-year-old to being dependent on his wife and feeling like he was 80 in the span of 10 years.
“I’m glad he died before me, but it doesn’t make my life any better knowing that he’s dead,” Mr. Arrigo said. “I’m an American, and I’m a proud American, and I’m a proud veteran, but the fact that they killed him doesn’t make me all of a sudden able to jump up out of my bed and go dance with my wife in the living room. I’m still in the same shape and getting worse and time goes on.”
As a union laborer with Local 79, he had been able to provide his family with the American dream — a beautiful house with a pool out back, nice cars. He coached T-ball and played football with his son. Despite the stench of death at ground zero, he was proud to be working there. But now, Mr. Arrigo said, he sometimes wonders whether it would have been better to have died than to live as he does now. “It breaks my heart to see what it’s doing to my family and to my children and to my wife,” he said.
He felt those same wrenching, contradictory emotions as he saw the crowds on television Sunday night, celebrating Bin Laden’s death. “With all the people at ground zero and the people at the White House, for that brief moment everybody became and American again, and everybody remembered,” he said. “But what about the nine years that everybody’s been suffering? You don’t hear about that. People forgot about us. The politicians forgot about us. The law firms made whatever deals they could make.”
When he worked at ground zero, Mr. Arrigo said, “Unfortunately, I thought I was superman, so you didn’t worry about it. You just went and did what you were doing. But I’ve certainly learned that I’m not.”
At this point, he said, he would rather focus on the small pleasures of having his wife and three children, Daniel, 16, Caitlin, 14, and Shannon, 12, around him.
In the calm light of Monday morning, he said: “You know what? For a guy like me it doesn’t really change what I’m going through. Obama took out Osama. Well, you know, that’s great. He’s my president. I voted for him. Right now he’s the most popular guy in the United States. But what is that doing for me? Is that making me safer? Is it making me feel better while I’m laying in bed, while I’m puking off the side of the bed into a garbage pail, or I can’t catch my breath, or I don’t make it into the bathroom on time. These are things that I live every day of my life.
“The fact that Osama is dead, that’s a great thing, but it doesn’t change my life at all.” — ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at the official event near ground zero Monday that the city was increasing its police presence on the subway system and had instructed officers to be vigilant for suspicious packages.
“Our assumption is that Bin Laden’s disciples would like nothing better than to avenge his death by another attack in New York,” he said. “That is our operating premise.”
Mr Kelly added, “We certainly are not taking any chances.”
Anthoula Katsimatides, whose brother, John, died in the Sept. 11 attacks, also spoke at the event, praising construction workers for their “steadfast commitment” to building a memorial.
“The story of 9/11 is not over,” she said, pausing at times to hold back tears. “It is important to understand that it is our duty to continue to underscore and to tell everyone, future generations, what happened on that day.” — JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ
Steffi Pfalz came home at midnight Sunday from a reading of names of Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Manhattan, heard the news of Osama bin Laden’s death and said to herself, “What a coincidence!”
The reading of names of Jewish victims always summons up for Ms. Pfalz echoes of the annual reading of names of victims of World Trade Center’s destruction — a reading she witnessed at ground zero in 2003.
But Ms. Pfalz, 32, a German who went to work eight years ago as a volunteer at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan because of her interest in reconciliation between Germans and Jews and stayed on as a program officer, said pointedly, “I don’t want to connect the Holocaust to a terrorist attack.”
“The Holocaust is unique,” she said.
As names of Holocaust victims were read Monday at the Jewish Community Center, there may have been some who thought the news of the killing of Bin Laden coming precisely on the day the Holocaust is commemorated displayed some enigmatic workings of a divine hand. But divine or not, many were struck by the sheer confluence of events.
In speeches he sent from his hideout, Bin Laden sometimes singled out Israel, attacking what he saw as the “Zionist-Crusader’s war on Islam.” So his killing by United States forces in Pakistan seemed to bring a particular satisfaction to some of those attending the Holocaust commemoration at the Jewish Community Center.
“It makes sense that it would be today,” said David Kleinberg-Levin, 71, a retired professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. “Bin Laden was obviously an evil man like Hitler and he killed many people not just Americans.”
“He was definitely anti-Israel, anti-Zionist — he was anti-Semitic — and saw Israel as a nation that should be wiped off the face of the earth,” he said. “What he had in mind was a continuation of the Holocaust.”
Mr. Kleinberg-Levin also saw an overlap between the Jewish victims of racism during the Holocaust and President Obama, who he said has been a victim of racist attacks that question his Christianity by saying he is a Muslim.
“”This will help his credentials,” he said.
The reading of the names of Holocaust victims started Sunday night at the Carlebach Shul, a synagogue on West 79th Street, continued past midnight through the early morning hours and then moved Monday morning to a study room at the Jewish Community Center on Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street, The center has bollards built into the sidewalk surrounding it for security reasons.
During the 20 hours, some 32,000 names will be read — just some of the Jewish victims in Austria and Lithuania. By one count, it would take 125 days to read the name of all six million Jewish victims.
Mr. Kleinberg-Levin said he came to read some names because “I regard it as kind of duty.”
“I never forgot the Holocaust,” he said. “It’s in my mind all the time.”
Marvin Ginsberg, 62, who lives on the Upper West Side and who works in advertising and read the names of murdered Lithuanian Jews, saw the demise of Bin Laden as “a turning point.”
“Perhaps it’s sign,’’ he said, “that those who out to commit mass murder and mass torture are getting their due,” he said. — JOSEPH BERGER
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking Monday afternoon in front of 4 World Trade Center, observed Osama bin Laden’s death by describing how Lower Manhattan has flourished since September 2001 and detailing the progress in rebuilding ground zero. He called the rebuilding “a rebuke to all of those who seek to destroy our freedoms and liberties.”
Here is the bulk of his speech.
In the dark days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, Americans made a solemn commitment that we would always remember in our hearts and minds all those we lost.
In just four months, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the National September 11th Memorial will open, providing a powerful and permanent place of reflection and remembrance.
Already, there is a generation of children growing up who were too young to understand what happened on 9/11 or they were not born yet.
They may be too young to understand what the news Bin Laden’s death means. But it is our obligation in building the museum to ensure that the story of 9/11 is not forgotten.
In the dark days that followed Sept. 11, we made a solemn commitment that we would rebuild the World Trade Center site.
As you can see, 7 World Trade Center is standing and open for business. …
Four World Trade Center has risen above 25 stories. …
One World Trade Center is now above 60 stories. …
… and both are stretching higher every day.
This is the largest, most complicated construction site in North America — and one of the most important in American history.
In the dark days that followed Sept. 11, we made a solemn commitment — to the dead and the living — that we would bring to justice those responsible for killing more than 2.900 Americans.
Yesterday, Osama bin Laden found out that America keeps its commitments.
Today, we have come to the site that terrorists attacked in 1993 and again in 2001 to reaffirm our commitments — to all those we lost, to the future we believe in, and to a more peaceful and just world.
And we come to say, with gratitude for the courageous men and women who made it possible, that the forces of freedom and justice have once again prevailed over those who use terror to pursue tyranny.
Osama bin Laden is dead, and the World Trade Center site is teeming with new life.
Osama bin Laden is dead, and Lower Manhattan is pulsing with new activity.
Osama bin Laden is dead, and New York City’s spirit has never been stronger.
The construction you see here is a rebuke to all of those who seek to destroy our freedoms and liberties.
Nothing will ever return our loved ones — but we are rebuilding from the ashes and the tears a monument to the American spirit.
New York’s way is ever forward, ever skyward.
Ten years ago, a terrible evil visited this place. Today, let the spirits that are all around us know some peace and justice.
The spontaneous celebrations that occurred last night here in Lower Manhattan, in Times Square, at the White House, in public spaces and private homes around the world… were a tribute to the selfless valor and dedication of our armed forces, and to all those who have protected our nation from terrorist attacks over the past nine and half years.
During that time, the New York City Police Department has built the most sophisticated counterterrorism operation of any police department in the world.
Today, as it does every day, Commissioner Kelly and our counterterrorism experts will adjust their strategies and deploy their resources based on the latest information.
As of now, there are no new immediate threats against our City.
But there is no doubt we remain a top target, and the killing of Bin Laden will not change that.
Nor will it distract us from a mission that remains our absolutely highest priority: defending our city and country against all those who use violence to attack freedom.
On behalf of all New York City residents, I want to congratulate our Commander-in-Chief, all the men and women in our armed forces, and in our intelligence community, for accomplishing this mission.
And I also want to recognize, as President Obama did, the leadership of his predecessor, President Bush.
In the days after 9/11, President Bush came here to Ground Zero — and stood on the rubble, shoulder-to-shoulder with our rescue and recovery workers — and used a bullhorn to tell the world that that we would bring to justice those who attacked our city and our country.
He never wavered in that mission — and his leadership was crucial to yesterday’s victory.
Neighbors swarmed Cheryl Stewart’s modest two-story house on Coffey Street in Brooklyn, Sunday night flashing pictures all night of the simple sign that she had hung inside the front fence for so many years that it had become part of daily life in Red Hook.
The sign asked only question, one that until Sunday seemed rhetorical.
Where is Osama bin Laden?
“Dead,” read the piece of paper someone had tacked with black tape over “bin” around midnight on Sunday.
“Congratulations,” Isaura Horenstein, said tearfully on Monday morning outside the house as she hugged her neighbor moments after Ms. Stewart held an intimate and ad hoc ceremony to take down the sign.
“Thank you,” replied Ms. Stewart, a 48-year-old sculptor, for it had become intensely personal after 9 years and 232 days.
Every morning before going to her studio, she would change the red numbers, and when she was away or after she spent 19 days in the hospital recovering from a motorcycle accident this month, Ms. Horenstein or her husband, Michael, would do it for her.
“When I first put the sign up, I didn’t imagine it would take this long,” Ms. Stewart said, sitting on her front stoop in a plastic chest cast and holding crutches.
“To me, it’s a criminal justice issue, 3,000 people died,” she said. “Nothing was done. And it took 9 years, 232 days to find somebody who killed 3,000 of my neighbors. It utterly changed my city forever.”
Ms. Stewart did not know any of the victims personally from the Sept. 11 attacks, she said. But she mourned their loss every day, as well as the loss of security in her city.
“I didn’t lose one person; what I lost was my city the way it had been,” she said.
Ms. Stewart moved to Red Hook in 1999, and on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, she did not immediately hear the news since she had no television. But she could see the towers burning from her roof.
She actually hung the sign 511 days into the search for Bin Laden, fashioning the daily count because she recalled the tabloids doing the same during the hostage crisis in Iran.
“I had been talking about doing the sign, but I have a busy life and it just took me a while to get around to it,” she said.
In time, she added years to the number of days because the numbers simply got too large.
Since Ms. Stewart still does not own a television, and prefers the radio or the Internet, she heard the news Sunday night when friends and neighbors suddenly inundated her with phone calls, e-mails and text messages.
Ms. Stewart finally fell asleep to the flashbulbs lighting like fireflies outside her window.
Ms. Horenstein, 56 and a longtime bartender at the Red Hook institution Sunny’s Bar, said she went to bed early and did not hear the news until 6:30 a.m. when she walked outside with her Great Pyrenees puppy, Sadie.
“I just couldn’t believe it; I thought it was a joke,” she said.
A person during the night had scrawled below the sign, “Thank you!” and then, strangely, as if to be helpful: “Castro’s on Dikeman.”
Ms. Stewart just laughed and shrugged, knowing that her message had been delivered. She said she was grateful that she had been able to return on Saturday from a rehabilitation center in White Plains, just in time to observe the occasion, which had become an important part of her life.
With the sign removed at 10 a.m. Monday, her azaleas would finally get some light, she said with a smile. The metaphor seemed appropriate for the second day of May in New York.
“I had one question to ask,” Ms. Stewart said. “Asked and answered.” — LIZ ROBBINS
Law enforcement agencies around New York stepped up security in response to the death of Osama bin Laden.
“In light of the events that are unfolding, the Port Authority has directed its police to increase its presence at all Port Authority facilities, including the World Trade Center site,” Christopher O. Ward, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, said in a statement. “This response is not based on a current threat, but out of an abundance of caution until we have the chance to learn more. In the meantime, all Port Authority facilities remain fully operational and at normal service levels.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that it, too, had stepped up security in the city’s transit system.
At the state level, however, no extra State Police or National Guard personnel have been deployed, state officials said Monday.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered state agencies late Sunday to take “immediate steps” to ensure a heightened level of caution, and he held a conference call with law enforcement and homeland security officials on Monday morning.
“The public should rest assured that we are taking appropriate precautions and increasing our alertness,” the governor’s deputy secretary for public safety, Elizabeth Glazer, said. “We have no specific or credible threats at this time, but we are acting out of an abundance of caution.”
Mr. Cuomo, speaking at a hastily convened news conference at the Capitol, said New Yorkers would see an “increased presence of personnel” around the state in the days to come. But he added that no local law enforcement agencies had requested additional state resources.
“I remind New Yorkers of the M.T.A. campaign, which I think says it well: If you see something, say something — today more than in recent past,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Our sincere hope is that with Bin Laden’s demise, a long period of pain can end, and a period of peace can begin.”
He added: “Suffice it to say — without discussing specifics of what we’re doing — we are on alert; we’re coordinating; and we understand that this is not a time to take anything for granted.”
The governor said that he first learned of Bin Laden’s death through the news media while at the Executive Mansion on Sunday night, and that he was briefed via telephone shortly thereafter by the federal homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano.
At the news conference, Mr. Cuomo described Bin Laden’s death as a moment of “mixed emotions” both for himself and for New Yorkers.
“There is something to celebrate: Justice has been done, a murderer has been stopped,” the governor said. “That is cause for celebration. At the same time, you see people crying. Why? Well, because it’s a time for reflection, and you think back to 9/11, and today brings that all rushing back.”
Mr. Cuomo was asked whether, if he were president, he would have authorized the strike on Bin Laden’s compound. “Yes,” he replied. — THOMAS KAPLAN
At the Islamic Cultural Center on East 96th Street in Manhattan, the imam, Shamsi Ali, likened Osama bin Laden to a cancer growing in the body of the Muslim population that had finally been cut off.
His death brought a deep sense of relief to people who had often been viewed with suspicion after the attacks, Mr. Ali said.
“We really applaud the efforts of the U.S. government,” Mr. Ali said. “Hopefully, this will be the start of Muslim communities living in tranquillity and peace.”
Mr. Ali added that ongoing vigilance against violent extremism was still of the utmost importance.
“We must be aware that terrorism is not just a person,” Mr. Ali said. “It’s about an ideology, a mindset. So we must continue our efforts to defeat terrorism through different means. Certainly education and economic development is one of the most effective ways.”
Mr. Ali, who is also the director of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens, added that Bin Laden had grossly distorted the image of Islam around the world.
“I hope that the killing of Bin Laden is a great help for the Muslims to bring back the real image of Islam into the society,” Mr. Ali said.
At the largely Afghan Hazrat Abubakr mosque in Flushing, Queens, the imam, Mohammad Sherzad, said he was overjoyed when his wife told him she had “good news” for him this morning.
He guessed it would have concerned events elsewhere in the Middle East: the fall of the Syrian or Libyan regimes. But instead, it was the death of Bin Laden, whom Mr. Sherzad said he held responsible for so much violence in his homeland. His phone quickly began to ring as others learned the news.
“Everybody was happy, because we suffer a lot from that criminal,” Mr. Sherzad said. “Before anybody else, he did a lot of crimes against the Muslims.”
Plans for a celebration this weekend were in the works, he added. —- KAREN ZRAICK
By midmorning, the crowds at ground zero had thinned, but a steady stream of people came to the site to take in the moment.
“I am overjoyed that we killed him,” said Budhnie Seecharan, 58, a housekeeper from Jersey City whose husband worked as a security guard at One Liberty Plaza on Sept. 11 and managed to escape. “I knew they would get him. This is America. I don’t care how long it takes.” She pointed to the sidewalk in front of her. “Seeing this, this morning, this is the reason you have to live here.”
Rachel Foshag, a visitor from Monroe, Mich., in town to visit friends, snapped photos in front of St. Paul’s church. She recalled being a senior in high school on Sept. 11, 2001. “I remember where I was sitting,” she said. “I was in school, we were about to take a test. An R.O.T.C. officer came into class and told the teacher to turn on the TV.”
Ms. Foshag, 27, has visited ground zero several times over the years. “When I was here in 2006, that was a bit emotional,” she said. “When I was here in 2003, they were still cleaning up. But right now, seems like people are just excited that finally there’s some justice.”
Richard Iverson, 65, who lives in Minneapolis and is in New York visiting his daughter, said that while the killing of Bin Laden was more a symbolic victory than anything else, “It’s nice to remove the symbol.”
Mr. Iverson added: “Certainly it’s something that for 10 years we’ve been trying to dispense of this guy. … It gives our country a boost, gives the military a boost, and hopefully it will not affect Muslim nations negatively.” — ASHLEY PARKER
The impromptu celebrations at ground zero began slowly on Sunday night. President Obama had not yet announced the death of Osama bin Laden, but word had begun to leak out on television and newspaper Web sites, and by 11:15 p.m. the first responses to the news could be seen near the former World Trade Center site.
A police car drove north on Church Street blaring bagpipe music from open windows, and an officer inside raised a clenched fist as he passed a knot of people on the sidewalk in front of the Millenium Hilton Hotel.
Three young men said that they had come to the site from 19th Street when they heard the initial reports of Bin Laden’s death.
“We decided to come down here because it means so much to New Yorkers, “ said Alejo Cabranes, 25. “We figured it was more important to come down here than to hear what the president had to say on TV.”
Around the corner on Liberty Street, there were people who wanted to do both.
Ryan Roberts, 25, stood near a firehouse facing the southern perimeter of ground zero watching Mr. Obama’s speech live on a cellular telephone as others gathered around to peer at the tiny screen in an eerie reprise of moments nearly ten years earlier when strangers gathered, confused, on street corners to listen to radios shortly after the twin towers were attacked.
Mr. Roberts and the others listened without comment to the description of how Bin Laden was killed. Afterward, Mr. Roberts called Bin Laden “the face of 9/11” and said: “I’m pretty much shaking right now.”
A young woman knelt near the firehouse to light a candle. Someone placed a bouquet on the sidewalk. Someone else wept. A woman from Arkansas said that she felt odd feeling good about a death. Her mother nodded, but added that when it came to Bin Laden, she was not a pacifist.
Jacob Bump, 37, a builder from TriBeCa, surveyed the scene and spoke quietly.
“It absolutely strikes an emotional chord,” he said. “It’s good to know that three’s closure on some level.”
Back on Church Street, reflection was giving way to jubilation. Several hundred people assembled at the corner of Vesey Street. They were mostly young and mostly animated. They sang “God Bless America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” They chanted “U.S.A.,” and, at one point, they chanted a vulgar, mocking message about Bin Laden.
Some carried candles. More carried flags. Port Authority police officers tried to keep the roadway cleared, to no avail. But few of the drivers stuck on Church Street seemed to mind. Horns beeped along in rhythm with the chants and shouts of encouragement came from car windows.
The Police Department set up wooden barricades at Barclay Street, a block to the north, to keep the crowd from growing. Everywhere there was talk of the death and what it might mean for the world. Television news reporters and camera operators roamed the crowd. People made phone calls to relatives and friends, narrating the scene and trying to catalog their own feelings.
Two young men climbed high onto a lamppost and waved a message scrawled on a piece of cardboard: “Obama 1, Osama 0.” A member of the crowd handed up an American flag, and one of the men waved it wildly as the other uncorked a bottle of Champagne.
Somebody called for a moment of silence, and for a few seconds the ebullience gave way to sobriety as people raised hands into the air, some pointing a single finger triumphantly, some giving a double-fingered V sign that could symbolize victory or peace, and some simply stretching all five fingers toward the sky as if offering thanks or inviting a benediction.
A few moments later, just after 1 a.m., a cry went up from Barclay Street. The police officers there had moved the barricades, and hundreds of people who had been observing the crowd from the other side of a sawhorse came rushing down Church Street to join it. — COLIN MOYNIHAN