SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — “My first feeling was disbelief,” Alice Hoagland said, describing her initial reaction to the news of Osama bin Laden’s violent death in Pakistan.
Hoagland is the still-grieving mother of Flight 93 passenger Mark Bingham, a Bay Area man and University of California-Berkeley graduate who perished on Sept. 11, 2001 in the crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“It seems just too impossible that almost a decade on we have finally been able to locate and eliminate the mastermind and chief terrorist who was responsible for the deaths of everybody on 9/11, including my son Mark,” Hogaland told KCBS on Monday.
“Also, the seamen who died on the USS Cole and everybody in the Khobar Towers and embassies in Tanzania and Kenya,” she continued. “So Osama bin Laden had a great deal of American blood on his hands and I do agree with President Barack Obama when he said that the world is a safer place now that we are rid of him.”
KCBS’ Rebecca Corral Reports:
Hoagland said news of bin Laden’s death has brought her some sense of closure and relief.
“I dread the word closure and frankly I will never have closure in my life, when it comes to my son,” she reasoned. “I miss Mark every day and I will to the day I die.”
“However, in this instance, it does feel very fitting and very much like closure that the man who perpetrated the violent death of nearly 3,000 Americans has now met a violent death at the heads of the United States Military system, aided by good and apt and accurate intelligence and commanded by our Commander In Chief,” she said.
Hoagland has worked closely with organizations to honor the victims of the Flight 93 tragedy, and she told KCBS that a documentary about her son was scheduled for premiere in San Francisco on June 18. She is also active in the Mark Bingham Foundation, which was created in her son’s honor.
“This news about Osama bin Laden has been a terrific galvanizing influence on our work,” she said.
Family members of other victims were relieved but shaken. Danville resident Carole O’Hare was flying out her retired mother from New Jersey to the Bay Area when she died on Flight 93.
“I was always hoping they’d catch him one way or another,” O’Hare said, adding that she is not a vengeful person. “I’m relieved that he can’t hurt anyone anymore.
Three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, O’Hare flew to Shanksville, where the hijacked plane went down.
“It was traumatic,” she recalled. She said, however, that it was important for her to go, in part because otherwise she feared she would develop an aversion to airline travel.
Meanwhile, other family members of those aboard the San Francisco-bound United Flight 93 expressed hope that renewed attention would help their push for a national memorial.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
“We can’t afford to forget,” reasoned Gordon Felt, president of the group Families of Flight 93. His brother, Edward, was a passenger on Flight 93, on his way to business meetings at a San Jose-based company. “We can’t afford to forget the events of September 11th, we can’t afford to forget all those people who we lost on that day. And this does once again raise that profile and in the tenth anniversary year we were going down that road to begin with, with renewed interest.”
Phase One of a crash site memorial is scheduled for dedication in Shanksville this year, but Phase Two still needs an estimated $15 million by March 2012 to move forward.
“There are many families affected in the Bay Area and so the memorial that they’re building in honor of the Flight 93 passengers and crew is very appropriate,” added state Assemblyman Sandre Swanson of Oakland, who lost his first cousin, Wanda Green, in the crash. She was a senior flight attendant on the ill-fated flight.
A local memorial has already been erected in honor of the Flight 93 victims, in Union City.
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