At Ground Zero, a ‘Proud Mixture of Emotions’ After Bin Laden’s Killing

Jane and Bob Murphy made a special trip to the World Trade Center site today before catching a flight home to Boston, a day after al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.

“We’ve been looking for him for so long, and the personal sacrifice has been tremendous in response to his actions,” Jane Murphy, a retired librarian who was in New York with her husband to visit their daughter, said in an interview. “We’re here for the same reasons we visited after 2001 -- to show love and unity, and to peacefully take a moment to reflect.”

The Murphys, both 59, joined crowds near the 16-acre site where the Twin Towers fell almost 10 years ago after bin Laden orchestrated the Sept. 11 killings. The worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil killed almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon in suburban Washington and a field in Pennsylvania where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

Sally Regenhard, who lost her son Christian, 28, a probationary rookie firefighter, in the attack, said she watched the crowd gather at Ground Zero with “a profound mixture of emotions.”

“I’m very gratified that after 10 years something that was promised to us immediately after 9/11 has come to pass,” she said. “And I’m so appreciative of those who came out to express what I experience as support for us who lost loved ones in the attack. On the other hand, I still grieve for my son.”

Fresh Bouquets

Police blocked off one block near the site for foot traffic and media trucks. Passersby snapped photos of a woman selling American flags. Fresh bouquets of roses and daisies flanked a fence separating the street from the construction site.

“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 innocent people,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference at the site. “Yesterday, Osama bin Laden found out that America keeps its commitments.”

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Rising From Ground

Towering above the onlookers was the frame of what will be the 1,776-foot One World Trade Center, the $3.1 billion project’s signature building. Workers have placed steel supports to 64 stories, said Steven Coleman, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site and has supervised construction. Work remains on schedule toward a 2014 completion, he said.

A $3.4 billion transportation hub connecting city subways with a Port Authority rail transit link under the Hudson River to New Jersey is on schedule for completion in 2014, Coleman said.

A memorial plaza and tree arbor, scheduled to open Sept. 11 for the 10th anniversary of the attack, features almost- completed reflecting pools and more than 150 trees. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, to be completed in 2012, will reflect the raid in Pakistan yesterday, said Joe Daniels, its president and chief executive officer.

President Barack Obama announced yesterday that bin Laden had been killed in a firefight by a team of U.S. operatives who raided the compound where he had been hiding. Bin Laden, 54, eluded American forces that invaded Afghanistan following the 2001 attacks, escaping across the mountainous border with Pakistan.

Closed Wound

“What happened yesterday is a milestone moment in the story, something people around the world have wanted for more than 10 years, and now that wound is closed,” Daniels said in an interview. “We intend to tell the story of this operation, how the commandos recall the courage and heroism of the 400 first responders who lost their lives in the attack, and its implications, which have yet to unfold.”

Elsewhere on the site, the 72-story, 977-foot tall (298 meter) 4 World Trade Center is scheduled to open in 2013, said Bud Perrone, a spokesman for developer Larry Silverstein. Three World Trade Center, planned for 80 stories, or 1,170 feet, will first be built seven stories high, including five floors of retail, he said.

Ojiugo Nwaigwe, 49, planned to show the images of the crowds and construction zone she captured with her cell phone to her daughter in New Jersey.

“The country’s morale will be improved because of this,” said Nwaigwe, a nurse en route home to East Orange after working the night shift at a Manhattan hospital. “The men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan won’t have done so in vain.”

‘Surprised and Stunned’

Jim McCaffrey, a New York City firefighter whose brother- in-law, Batallion Chief Orio Palmer, died responding to the attack, described himself as “surprised and stunned” when his sister-in-law called with news of bin Laden’s death.

“It’s gratifying but also a reminder of the continuing costs and risks, because the war on terror doesn’t end with bin Laden,” McCaffrey said. While giving the Navy Seals and intelligence operatives the “lion’s share of credit,” McCaffrey recalled that Obama made the pursuit of the al-Qaeda leader into foreign countries a campaign pledge. “He made good on that, so some of the credit has to go to him.”

Cantor Fitzgerald

Cantor Fitzgerald LP, an investment bank, lost 658 of its 960 employees in the terrorist attack.

“It’s been a long and painful 10 years since the worst attack in America’s history,” Howard W. Lutnick, chairman and chief executive officer of the New York-based firm, said in a statement. He lost his brother Gary in the attack. “Now no other families will suffer the way that so many families have from his hand.”

Maureen Santora’s 23-year-old son Christopher died on the job as a firefighter in the attack.

“I knew he would be caught, I’m delighted it was American soldiers that caught him,” Santora said of bin Laden today at a press briefing at the New York office of Norman Siegel, an attorney for some of the families of 9/11 victims. “We will never get our son back, no matter what happens, but I’m very joyful.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Esmé E. Deprez in New York at edeprez@bloomberg.net; Henry Goldman in New York City Hall at hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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