Firefighters on bin Laden death: "Good riddance"

The attack on the World Trade Center left an indelible mark on New York City firefighters. It took the lives of 343 of them.

Now, nearly 10 years later, comes news of Osama bin Laden's death. Word of the leader's demise at the hands of American soldiers has left New York City's fire commissioner thankful for their actions.

Special Section: Death of Osama bin Laden

In a statement Sunday night, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said, "Osama bin Laden was responsible for killing 343 members of the FDNY on September 11, 2001. Tonight, in firehouses throughout the city, our members are grateful for the news, and thankful to all the brave members of the U.S. military that had a role in this successful operation."

But will the news of bin Laden's death change the victims' families' outlook on the tragedy?

Retired firefighter James Hanlon, executive producer and director of a CBS/Golfish Pictures documentary called "9/11," said it's unlikely, because 9/11 was not about bin Laden.

"You know," he explained, "we've been doing the update for the 10-year anniversary for the CBS documentary. And we started asking the question, you know, to several of the guys. We've interviewed everybody and said, you know, 'Hey, bin Laden is, you know, still out there. Does that have any effect on you?' And overwhelmingly the guy said, 'The day's not about, you know, Osama bin Laden. The day was about, you know, loss and sacrifice and heroism.' And I think now, maybe that he's gone, I think that - I think it will bring closure, and I hope it brings closure to a lot of families. But I don't think his death and him being gone really will change how a lot of firefighters feel about that day. For them, it's not about him. It's about something else. We lost 343 firefighters on that day, but we've lost many, many more since that day to cancers. We recently lost two members of my firehouse to multiple cancers that are directly related to that day and the clean-up."

Hanlon said bin Laden's death brings a sense of justice - not relief.

"It's not relief, because it's -- it kind of brings you straight back to that day, and makes you kind of relive the what happened that day, and everything that was lost, and, you know, the kind of tragedy of it. It kind of brought me back to that," he said.

Hanlon said he spoke to firefighters. He said he had a "somber talk" with them.

"No one was really cheering or, or really happy about it," he said. "It was more like, well, 'he's gone, good riddance.' You know, it's a good thing that he won't be around anymore to preach hate, and to kind of cause harm to anybody, and it's -- and then to watch it on TV and see all the celebration that I'm here in Los Angeles, back in New York, it was a little surreal."

But Hanlon acknowledged the Ground Zero and White House celebrations showed a different kind of closure for others.

"I kind of looked at it and saw a lot of young people and it made me think at such a young age to have all of this kind of affect them and now years later, you know, they're 21, 22 years old these kids and they're out there and they're cheering, and I think sometimes, because I was a fireman, and involved in a different way, I kind of lost perspective of how many other people in this country sometimes the day really affected. I usually think of the first responders, and the firemen and the police officers, and the Port Authority and the families. And it's a day that really changed America on a lot of levels. And I think we're seeing it in the people out there. And releasing this. And kind of getting some kind of closure."

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