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Mixed Emotions for Families of 9/11 Victims Following bin Laden Death

Relatives of Wantagh and Seaford residents killed in terror attacks a decade ago express happiness with U.S action but don't find closure from death of al-Qaida leader leader.

News that the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been killed brought much joy across the nation but it also conjured up painful memories for more a dozen Wantagh and Seaford residents who lost loved ones nearly 10 years ago.

Late Sunday night President Barack Obama confirmed that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden has been killed. Obama said that the leader of al-Qaida, responsible for the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, was killed during an operation he ordered inside Pakistan a week ago. The president added that American officials were in possession of his body.

Among the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9/11 were 14 residents from the Wantagh-Seaford area. Those from Wantagh whose names are included on the Nassau County 9/11 Memorial at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow include Robert Sliwak, Dennis M. Carey Sr., Lee S. Fehling, Richard A. Aceto, Brian McDonnell, Paul Talty, Charles Wilson Magee, Joseph Mistrulli and Francis John Sadocha. The five from Seaford honored on the memorial are Wayne Salomon, Michael Wittenstein, Matthew L. Ryan, Timothy S. Haskell and John William Perry.

Susan Sliwak expressed satisfaction that bin Laden is no longer roaming this earth but said news of the terrorist being killed by U.S special forces has brought back much of the painful emotions she experienced on that fateful September day a decade ago. Sliwak ‘s husband worked at the financial services firm Cantor-Fitzgerald near the top of the World Trade Center's North Tower.

“I’m ecstatic that the man who took so many loved ones finally has to walk the valley of the dead,” said Sliwak. “It is a very mixed emotional day.”

Janet Wexler-Magee, whose husband Charles was killed while working as a chief engineer for Silverstein Properties at the World Trade Center, said she feels “a great sense of justice” with bin Laden being killed, but that the news does not do anything in terms of creating closure. “It doesn’t bring back the thousands of people that we’re lost,” she said. “I worry about the retaliation. We have to remain vigilant.”

Dawn Haskell-Carbone of Seaford, who lost brothers Timothy and Thomas on 9/11, also expressed mixed emotions the day after the announcement of bin Laden being killed. The Haskell brothers were both graduates and were working as New York City firefighters on 9/11. Timothy lived in Seaford and Thomas was a resident of Massapequa Park. 

“I feel justice was served but I don’t feel closure,” she said. “It brings back what happened all over again.”

The Haskell brothers and Sliwak are included in a 9/11 Memorial at Seaford High School along with Perry and Wittenstein. Sliwak said she paid a visit to the memorial this morning and often will visit the site in honor of her husband’s memory. Sliwak was a standout football and baseball player at Seaford.

“The leader of the United States’ top enemy has gotten what he deserves for orchestrating the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001,” said Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, in a statement issued late Sunday night. “This great success would not have been possible without the tireless work of countless brave men and women who have served around the world in this War on Terror."

Arnold Wittenstein May 03, 2011 at 12:59 PM
The finding of bin Laden and his removal is a credit to the United States government and military. However it does not bring closure to the events of September 11th. The respect shown to bin Laden in his burial, at sea, is in sharp contrast to failure of the City of New York to accept the U. S. Governments offer to assist in the identification of those remains taken to the Staten Island land fill. As the parents of one of the almost 2,000 unidentified victims of September 11th, I can not have closure until our son, Michael, is found and identified. Arnold Wittenstein President of Seaford High School 9/11 Organization
Andrew Coen May 03, 2011 at 01:06 PM
Thank you for your comment Arnold and my heart goes out to you and your family for what you have had to go through. I covered last year's 9/11 service at Seaford High School and was extremely touched by both the service and memorial there.

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