9/11 Families Rejoice After bin Laden's Death

For them, it's personal.

The entire world rejoiced, but for those who lost mothers, sons, husbands, siblings, the amazing news of Osama bin Laden's death set off an emotional outpouring of a magnitude they hadn't felt since that dreadful day 10 years ago.

There was utter elation that the evil leader of the feared terror cabal was finally gone -- but that was tempered with an aching sadness for those who were lost in the 2001 attack.

"I'm tingling. I am tingling," said Charles Wolf, whose wife Katherine was on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center's north tower.

"I am so glad that this man's evil is off of this earth. You can be sure that God is going to throw this man's soul into the depths of hell. That's hell with a capital H."

A phone call from an old friend upended Wolf's routine last night with news he feared he might never hear.

"My desk phone rang, and I see it's from a business friend from Atlanta. I picked it up. John tells me, 'Hey, the guy that killed your wife, they just got him,' " said Wolf.

He was thrilled -- at first. But after the joy, he felt a familiar sorrow for his lost wife, a classically trained pianist. He fell in love with her the moment he first saw her in 1988.

Some relatives got the stunning news from TV.

"I said, 'Wait a minute. Is this true or not? Is he really dead? Do they have the body?' " said Miltiadis Ahladiotis, whose daughter, Joanne, was a Cantor Fitzgerald employee.

Once he realized it was true, he thought of his daughter -- smart, funny, always happy, always smiling.

"It's been 10 years since I lost my daughter. Nine months ago, I lost my wife. All these years . . ." he said before breaking down.

Debra Burlingame received a jubilant phone call from her brother.

The sister of American Airlines Flight 77 pilot Charles Burlingame III, she has made countless TV appearances to ensure that her brother's death wouldn't be forgotten. Yesterday she was almost speechless.

"I am in shock. It's kind of hard to digest," she said.

"This is a guy who's been out there not just the last 10 years, but for a long, long time."

James Riches, retired FDNY deputy chief, said he felt a rush of patriotism upon hearing the good news -- but his grief for his firefighter son, James Jr., was still with him.

"At least we know that the guy who was responsible for crushing our loved ones to death has been killed," he said.

"It still doesn't change the fact that my son won't walk through the door."

All over the country, Americans took to the streets to express their relief -- but nowhere was more joyful than the area around the World Trade Center, forever known as Ground Zero.

An hour after President Obama's speech, about 1,000 people had gathered -- chanting, "USA! USA!" spraying champagne, and erupting in jubilation at the site of the atrocity.

A procession of firefighters paraded down Church Street, holding flags.

"My best friend's dad was killed at Ground Zero. We lost a lot of folks," said Pete Brady, a FDNY firefighter who started a small parade to remember the fallen.

Republished with permission of The New York Post.

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