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Impromptu celebration forms at Ground Zero

By Connor Adams Sheets

Hundreds of New Yorkers flocked to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan late Sunday night after President Barack Obama announced that U.S. military forces had finally killed 9/11 architect Osama bin Laden.

Their journey was a pilgrimage of sorts — from Queens, from Brooklyn, from Harlem — to the site of the worst attack ever to taint American soil.

Many had flocked there to the wreckage of the Twin Towers nearly a decade earlier in a somber state of horror and with a steeled sense of duty to one’s fellow man.

But Sunday’s mood was one of remembrance and tempered jubilation at the news that the man who left two gaping holes in America’s heart had finally been brought to justice.

Where once rose two beams of white light pointing skyward, Four World Trade Center and One World Trade Center — better known as the Freedom Tower — are each going up at a floor per week. The Freedom Tower is already more than 60 stories tall.

And bin Laden’s death in the wake of so much sadness brought the crowd that had traveled there together, cell phones and cameras raised high, to sing the national anthem, chant “U-S-A” and shed a tear for those who were so senselessly murdered feet from where they stood.

Courtney Goodloe, who is now a Long Island resident but lived in Astoria and Rego Park for many years, worked as an assistant district attorney in Queens DA Richard Brown’s office for six years that spanned Sept. 11, 2001. Years before that, she worked at a financial firm at 140 Broadway and took the subway to the World Trade Center each morning, a memory that brings her chills today.

Goodloe was visiting a friend, Eric Johnson, in Upper Manhattan Sunday and the pair traveled to the site to honor the memories of the many people she knew who lost loved ones in the attacks.

“We got him! For me, it’s a little mixed. I was a prosecutor at the time in Queens, and I had a lot of friends whose family members were firefighters and police officers, and they went through things that were indescribable,” she said. “We came here as soon as we heard the news.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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