Ground zero crowd voices hope, apprehension

AP News
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Posted: May 05, 2011 7:46 PM

Yolanda Moreno was so happy to live in a world without Osama bin Laden that she skipped work to meet and thank President Barack Obama on Thursday.

Moreno never saw the president but spent the day at ground zero, staking out a seat on a bench beside the blue boards obscuring the construction of the new World Trade Center. Across the construction site, the new One World Trade Center tower rose over lower Manhattan, its flanks already partly covered in glass.

"They finally got the monster," said Moreno, a 56-year-old factory worker from Queens, of bin Laden. The victims "can rest in peace now. They're with the angels now, and they're looking down, knowing that President Obama finally got to the guy."

Moreno said she was pleased by bin Laden's death, but, like other New Yorkers, she worried that the city would be targeted again by terrorists.

"After what happened we have to be very alert, because it's not over," Moreno said. "The war ended for that man, but now we are targets."

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Helen Grimes, of Dublin, Ireland, knows a thing or two about life under the specter of terrorism.

Grimes, 56, lived through The Troubles, the 30-year period of conflict over Northern Ireland, and last year she was in New York when militant Faisal Shahzad tried to bomb Times Square. She missed her Broadway show because of the bombing attempt, she said ruefully.

On Thursday, she and her four sisters sat in a plaza near ground zero. They were vacationing in New York when they heard about President Barack Obamas visit and decided they wanted to be there.

"With President Obama coming down here today, it's sort of like a show of force: we're not afraid of you, we're down here where this terrible thing happened 10 years ago, and we're prepared for anything that comes our way," Grimes said.

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More than most Americans, Erroll Footman said he worries he's in the crosshairs of terrorists.

Footman, 42, is an investigator in a commodities exchange and works just steps from the World Trade Center. People who work in the financial district know they are prime targets for attacks, he said.

"It can happen anywhere, but New York always seems to be the target because of what we represent," Footman said. "The real wealth of the United States is really made here."

On Thursday, Footman stood on a sidewalk near ground zero, trying unsuccessfully to catch a glimpse of President Barack Obama.

He said he was happy with Osama bin Laden's death, but even more pleased by recent political changes in the Middle East. If new, stable democracies emerge from that turmoil, it could erode support for extremist groups, he said.

"When the people's vote really counts and it guides governments, I think that's important," Footman said.

No one wants their children becoming militant fighters, he said.

"I don't care what culture you're from, you want the best for your children," Footman said.