Bin Laden Dead: Crowds Rejoice at Ground Zero

For the first time, ground zero becomes place of revelry.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Massive crowds take to the streets to celebrate after the death of Osama Bin Laden. (Published Monday, May 2, 2011)

    New Yorkers' attention once again focused on ground zero Monday, this time with cheers and words of encouragement after the death of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks.

     

    Mayor Bloomberg and other officials held a briefing Monday at the site, where they honored victims of the 1993 and 2001 attacks and detailed progress on the Sept. 11 memorial and reconstruction.

     

    "Osama bin Laden is dead, and the World Trade Center site is teeming with new life," Bloomberg said. "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."

     

    Ordinary New Yorkers also expressed relief at the demise of bin Laden but cautioned that other foes who seek to harm the U.S. are still at large.

     

    "I'm happy they got him," said Walter Hillegass, who volunteered at the cleanup of the World Trade Center site and returned Monday. "But there's always going to be another one right behind him."

     

    A few visitors to the site waved American flags or carried homemade signs celebrating the news. Others raised their phones to shoot photo after photo of the towers now under construction at the perimeter of the site.

     

    Sylvain Hinzelin, a tourist from Nancy, France, was at the site to celebrate with Americans.

     

    "It's a great day for the USA," he said. "It's a great day for you, for the world."

     

    Dionne Layne of Stamford, Conn., spent the night at ground zero with her two children, ages 9 and 11. "They can't get this in a history class," she said. "They have to be a part of this."

     

    Bill Steyert, a Vietnam War veteran from Queens, planted himself across the street from the site wearing a placard that had a front-page photo of bin Laden pasted over a list of the names of the Sept. 11 victims.

     

    "We got him!" he shouted to passers-by.

     

    "I'm usually against violence," Steyert said. "But I believe that we have a right to defend ourselves against someone like him."

     

    Catherine Esposito, of Hazlet, N.J., came to mourn her firefighter brother, Frankie Esposito, who was killed on Sept. 11.

     

    "It makes me feel better knowing that the extremists and the radicals over there are hopefully as upset as we were on that day," she said.

     

    Pamela Afesi of Jersey City, N.J., said bin Laden's death was "bittersweet" because it forced her to think back on the 2001 attacks.

     

    "This is on my way to work, so I wanted to stop by and pay my respects," Afesi said.