The Putnam Examiner

Local Leaders and Residents Reflect on Bin Laden’s Death

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News of Osama bin Laden's death is celebrated near Ground Zero.

At 11:35 p.m. Sunday night, President Barack Obama stood in the East Room of the White House and delivered the news that Jim O’Neill, like so many other Americans, had been waiting nearly 10 years to hear.

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said.

O’Neill, the president of the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, lost around 50 friends when the towers came down, including Driscoll, an NYPD officer. He also saw the best in people, as scores of local firefighters, police officers and constructions workers made their way to Ground Zero, willing to do anything to help their fellow Americans.

“Every day I was waiting for that,” O’Neill admits, referring to the news that bin Laden had finally met his end. “Absolutely, unequivocally, this is a great day for all Americans and especially for the victims.”

The news of bin Laden’s death set off celebrations across the country, from Washington D.C. to Manhattan. Outside of New York City, though, few regions were hit harder on September 11 than the Hudson Valley. Putnam lost eight residents, while a staggering 109 Westchester residents were killed.

“I worked with 36 firemen who were killed on 9/11,” said Putnam County Legislator Rich Othmer, a former Marine who was a drill instructor at the New York City Fire Academy at Randall’s Island. “A lot of the young guys who I trained had died. I’ve been up all night making phone calls.”

Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat representing New York’s 18th Congressional District, was in her 13th year in office when two planes hit the Twin Towers, another struck the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in a field near Shanksville, Penn.

“The innocent men, women, and children who died on September 11th will forever be in our thoughts and prayers, and no victory on the battlefield can erase the sorrow for their loss,” Lowey said in a statement released Monday. “However, we can take comfort knowing the mastermind of these evil acts has been brought to justice.”

State Sen. Greg Ball (R-40), who was a 23-year-old 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force on September 11, now chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. While Americans celebrate bin Laden’s death, Ball said it “will also be seen as a rallying cry for those sick souls who seek to destroy the United States of America.”

Across America, May 1 was the day that everyone had, for ten years, been waiting for. Rep. Nan Hayworth, though, said it was not just a great day for the U.S. but for the world.

“‎​Osama bin Laden is gone,” the Republican from New York’s 19th Congressional District said in a statement. “We are blessed to have men and women in our military, intelligence, and diplomatic services whose courage, diligence, and perseverance have finally prevailed over evil.”

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