Bin Laden's death brings closure to local families

May 2, 2011 6:39:02 PM PDT
Bin Laden's death is especially meaningful for those who lost loved ones on September 11th. For them, this news is deeply personal. Part of that story is in San Francisco since some of the victims lived here. Sunday's developments gave their families a sense of peace.

On the day after Betty Ong's murderer was killed, her younger sister gave thanks at Cypress Lawn Cemetery. Gloria Ong brought flowers to the mausoleum where Betty's ashes are interred. She said their mother was ecstatic over the news.

"She said, 'You know, right now, I know your sister Betty and your dad are in tears of joy because of what happened tonight,'" said Gloria.

Betty was a flight attendant who died aboard American Airlines Flight 11. Her plane was the first to crash into the twin towers. She hid behind the galley and bravely called the American Airlines desk when the hijacking was taking place.

"The cockpit is not answering their phone and there's somebody stabbed in business class and we can't breathe in business class, somebody's got mace or something," said Betty on a voice recording.

"She always thought about other people before herself. That was just her characteristic and her personality," said Gloria.

Like Betty Ong, Mark Bingham was also from San Francisco. He perished aboard Flight 93 which crashed in rural Pennsylvania. He too was heroic. Bingham was one of the passengers who tried to storm the cockpit and fight off the hijackers. His mother, Alice Hoagland, was glued to the TV set Sunday. She called it a great catharsis.

"The lives of so many people were snuffed out on that day and it's such a glorious thing that a measure of justice has been reaped today," said Hoagland.

Betty was born and raised in San Francisco's Chinatown and her family hopes the city will rename her elementary school on Broadway Street, the Jean Parker School, in her memory.

The widow of the pilot of Flight 93 spoke to ABC7 News by phone. Sandy Dahl says it was her Christmas wish in 2001 that bin Laden be captured. Ten years later her wish came true.

"I am thrilled that the military continued and persevered and looked for this man and was not going to let him get away with what he did to us on 9/11 and that his reign of terror is over," said Dahl.

Bay Area resident Jack Grandcolas has every reason to celebrate the death of Bin Laden. His pregnant wife died on 9/11. But he said he is not celebrating Bin Laden's death.

His wife Lauren was on board Flight 93 when it crashed in rural Pennsylvania as passengers tried to retake control from the terrorists. Grandcolas is surprised it took this long to get to bin Laden. He hopes the death of the terrorist can become symbolic.

"I hope it's symbolic in that people need to come together in this world. There is too much of this death and destruction. The differences of this world have shrunk so much and we all need to come together," said Grandcolas.

Grandcolas says it's a lesson the world can learn from the death of what he calls this Hitler-like figure. Grandcolas considers bin Laden's death to be a chapter in his personal journey towards closure. But he says final closure will only come the day he dies.


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