Family of 9/11 Victims Make Pilgrimage to Ground Zero
By Ben Fractenberg
DOWNTOWN — Chundera Epps, 50, made a pilgrimage to Ground Zero Monday morning to share the news of Osama bin Laden's death with the spirit of her brother, who died on 9/11.
"I came down here to tell my brother that we finally got him," she wept.
Christopher Epps, 29, was working as an accountant for Marshall & McLennan in the north tower on 9/11.
His sister said she felt mixed emotions after getting to Ground Zero.
"It's so bittersweet," said Epps. "Osama was the man who was the mastermind behind my brother's death, [but] as a Christian I don't celebrate somebody dying."
Epps said she got the news when Celebrity Apprentice was interrupted for a special announcement.
"I cried all the way through it," she said. "I was like, 'Thank you, Jesus.'"
John Cartier, 43, also made the trip to Ground Zero Monday to remember a brother.
James Cartier was just 26 when he was killed on 9/11. He was an electrician working on the 105th floor of the south tower.
"We're here to show support to the troops for taking care of this," Cartier said.
"I'm just glad he's dead."
Cartier said he too was feeling mixed emotions. While he was excited about bin Laden being killed, the event reminded him of his brother's death.
"You miss your loved ones," he said.
Army veteran Ray Maldonado, 24, arrived at Ground Zero at 2 a.m. Monday.
"I decided to come down here and celebrate," said Maldonado, "but at the same time not to forget the victims."
Maldonado, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said coming to Ground Zero helped him move on.
"This is where it all started," he said. "It's closure."
For Rosemary Cain, who spoke at a press conference in Midtown Monday afternoon, the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed took some time to sink in.
The phone call late Sunday night woke her from a deep slumber. On the other end, the mother of another firefighter told her, "bin Laden is dead."
"I was stunned," said Cain, whose son George, 35, died after his company rushed to the smoldering remains at Ground Zero.
"I started to cry. I felt victory for George, I felt victory for all the souls of September 11. And then I turned off the light and I laid back down again."
The full extent of the news didn't hit until Monday, she said at press conference with other family members of 9/11's victims Monday.
"It's just gotten into me what an enormous, tremendous event this is."
Her stunned reaction to the news she'd waited nearly 10 years to hear was shared by other family members.
"The only comfort I took was to kiss my children in their beds," said Rosaleen Tallon, whose brother Sean died in the attacks.
"I woke up with much better clarity this morning…I realized that back in 2001, I was so naïve I thought that if we capture Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, this would be over.
"I've learned in the past 10 years that capturing bin Laden does not mean that this is over."
Liz Ladzinski contributed reporting.