Two Hauppauge widows of 9/11 first responders said President Barack Obama's announcement of Osama bin Laden's death on Sunday night brought them a sense of justice, but not closure.
"In one respect it's nice to know he's dead. I feel he can no longer mastermind any destruction against the United State or any other country," said Eileen Ryan.
Ryan said it was painful to watch her husband, New York City Police Sergeant Michael Ryan, die of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2007, years after working at Ground Zero and the debris known as "the pile." She first heard news of bin Laden's death on Monday morning, as she turned on Fox 5 while preparing to send her children to school.
The widow said a part of her wanted to travel into Times Square or Ground Zero and join in celebrating bin Laden's death with other 9/11 victim's families.
"It sounds morbid because it was a life, but he was so evil. You hate to celebrate any death, but this man was an evil, evil person," Ryan said.
Ryan and Greta Helmke, whose husband Robert died of cancer after working at Ground Zero, both said they have received a flood of emotional emails, phone calls and Facebook postings since Sunday evening.
"To tell you the truth, I am still very emotional because of the pain I feel for all the men and women who died on 9/11, after 9/11 and family, friends and loves ones that are still here and working through the pain," Helmke wrote to Patch in an email.
Ryan said she informed the oldest of her two children of bin Laden's death before sending them to school on Monday.
"You walk a fine line when you are trying to explain to your kids how evil this man was, 'He's the reason your dad isn't here. For that you can be happy, he hopefully won't ruin anyone else's life,'" she said.
Pam Donovan, spokeswoman for Hauppauge school district, said the district's teachers took different approaches in discussing the news with students. In the middle and high school, Obama's speech and news reports were posted outside of some classrooms while others encouraged students to share their personal memories of Sept. 11, 2001.
Social studies teachers held classes on topics including Obama's speech, terrorism, the impact of bin Laden's life and death, his burial at sea, the geography of the Middle East and the Muslim religion.
"The students were very curious. They seemed to know a lot of information. [Teachers] spoke about current events generally and tried to access what students already knew," Donovan said in a statement.
In Hauppauge's elementary schools, "God Bless America" was played over the PA system as part of the regular morning announcements. No formal classroom discussions or lessons on 9/11 were held.
Yet, Ryan said the long-awaited death of bin Laden didn't bring a sense of closure to her family.
"I don't think there will ever be closure for me or my kids. The every day reality is that Michael is not here," she said. "Closure to me would be closing the book on Michael."
Ryan and Helmke have formed the nonprofit 9/11 Responders Remembered, which is constructing a memorial park in Nesconset dedicated to 9/11 first responders.