National News

New Yorkers gather at Ground Zero with mixed emotion

Posted May 2, 2011 10:06 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2011 11:10 p.m. EDT

— The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center's iconic twin towers in New York City left a gaping hole in the city's skyline and a lingering void in the hearts of many.

When the news broke that the terrorist leader behind those attacks was killed in a covert military operation at a secure compound not far from Islamabad, Pakistan, many New Yorkers felt compelled to visit Ground Zero, in mourning and in jubilation.

"It's heartwarming," said Staten Island resident Lee England. "It gives the city hope. It restores a sense of hope."

Flowers, photos and notes covered the site Monday and swarms of locals and tourists paid their respects to the nearly 3,000 Americans killed in the attacks.

"God bless Obama for making this happen. I never thought it was going to happen, honest to God," said Ground Zero cleanup worker Victoria Strong. "For some of us, it's closure. For some, it's justice."

Osama bin Laden had been the most wanted man in the world before he was fatally shot Sunday and some called the news of his death "surreal" as it drudged up painful memories for those that lost their loved ones.

"Whenever I see a silhouette of lower Manhattan without the towers, it's like knife in my heart," said Rosemary Cain. "Something is missing."

Cain's son, George, was a New York City firefighter who died at Ground Zero.

"I think of this as a very sacred place and it should always be respected for what it is and what happened that day," Cain said.

She said she was glad to see Americans united again, much like they were on September 12, 2001.

For Cain, visiting Ground Zero isn't just a show of patriotism, it's an important ritual that brings her peace and helps her feel closer to her son.

"I will always come down here. This is where my son gave his life and this is where 3,000 souls went to heaven on September 11," she said.