Celebrations greet the news they had all waited so long to hear
Published 03/05/2011 | 05:00
When they heard the news, they had dropped whatever they were doing and headed to the spot where 10 years ago he killed 2,752 people.
"It is the moment we have all been waiting for," said Andreas Garzo, a 31-year-old New Yorker wandering around in red pyjamas at 1.30am. "Everyone in New York is going to be so happy."
Thousands gravitated to Ground Zero yesterday and celebrated into the early hours. Most laughed, some cried; all seemed determined to chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" until they lost their voices or had to go to work.
"For a lot of people tonight is the first in almost 10 years that they'll be able to breathe," said Claire Gailey (37) a writer and proofreader who had abandoned her dinner to join the crowds.
"New Yorkers are not healed," added Anne Bayefsky (57), an academic. "It is a deep wound. I hope tonight will mean a little bit of healing begins."
Diane Massaroli, whose husband, Michael (38), was killed while trying to escape from his office in the Twin Towers, said: "I just had to come here. I feel a closure that I thought I would never get. We have never celebrated since this happened. Tonight is sad also but it's a celebration."
At every turn in the tightly packed square was an American whose life had been changed forever by the events of that bright September morning in 2001.
Edward Peppiton (26) wore a camouflage cap decorated with the Purple Heart he received after being wounded while serving as a marine in Iraq in 2004.
"I watched a lot of 18-year-old friends die," said Mr Peppiton, of Staten Island. "Now the proper person is in the ground, and I know they'll be drinking beer in heaven tonight."
Syed Saeed (28), a Muslim from Brooklyn, said: "For 10 years I have been harassed and had my backpack checked on the Subway. Tonight I am so proud to be out here as a New Yorker."
With tears in his eyes, Darryl Vandermark, a 40-year-old assistant fire chief, recalled the "brothers" who rushed to the Twin Towers and never returned. "I wanted to see this place at a happy time," he said.
As police officers watched them flout anti-public drinking laws by swigging on cans of lager, Ilana Hostyk (21) and Simi Lambert (22) told how their formative years had been defined by Osama bin Laden.
"I can't remember opening a newspaper without him haunting the news, or turning on the TV without somehow being reminded," said Ms Hostyk.
As they spoke, the city's journalists were frantically preparing their front pages. "We Got Him!" screamed the 'New York Post'. "Rot In Hell," sneered the 'Daily News'.
More jubilant crowds gathered in Times Square, four miles to the north of Ground Zero, and in Los Angeles, 2,800 miles to the west.
Back in Manhattan, at 2.20am, a roar went up as the strains of 'Empire State of Mind', a 2009 song by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys that has become an unofficial city anthem, emerged from a sound system. New Yorkers looked to the sky and wept. (© Daily Telegraph, London)