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University Park's Ties to 9/11 Remembered After Pres. Obama Announces Death of Osama bin Laden

President Obama spoke Sunday night about the death of the person in charge of the 9/11 attacks.

Just days after the town of University Park and students at University Park Elementary School planted a tree in honor of Arbor Day at the Sept. 11 Memorial in town, President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the terrorists attacks almost 10 years ago.

University Park was just one of the many American towns that lost residents during the tragic attacks of the World Trade Center, Pentagon and attempted-attacked-turned-crash of United Flight 93 on that day.

Five people, including two children, lost their lives when American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

A family in University Park — Charles S. Falkenberg, 45, his wife, Leslie A. Whittington, 45, and their two children Zoe Falkenberg, 8, and Dana Falkenberg, 3, were killed. Zoe was a student at University Park Elementary School.

Sheila M.S. Hein, 51, of University Park, was also killed while working at the Pentagon when the plane hit.

Resident James Gekas knew the Falkenberg's as they were neighbors.

"The Falkenberg family was our very close neighbors for over ten years," Gekas wrote. "Charles was a gifted software engineer and scientist. Leslie earned her (doctorate) in economics from the University of Colorado in 1984 and served as assistant professor at the University of Maryland, and later, associate professor and associate dean at Georgetown University."

He said the family was headed to Australia where Whittington was to spend part of her sabbatical at Australia National University.

"I feel joy and relieve. There is justice when a tyrant of this magnitude is brought down suddenly and directly from our Armed Forces," Gekas said. "Today, I am especially proud to be an Army Veteran."

The news came in the last hours of Sunday, yet many Americans celebrated the death of bin Laden with celebrations at the the University of Maryland, the White House, Times Square in New York City and Ground Zero.

UMd. students blocked Route 1 through College Park, leaving commuters looking for an alternate route.

In a televised speech Sunday night, President Barack Obama announced the news confirming media reports that a team of trained American military personnel found and killed bin Laden Sunday at a compound in Pakistan.

bin Laden, 54, was the leader of al-Qaida, a terrorist organization based out of Afganistan and Pakistan.

"But his death doesn’t mark end of our efforts. We must and will remain vigilant at home and abroad," the President said in his speech.

In his brief speech, the President thanked the intelligence community – who secured leads on bin Laden's location in August. He also said that this fight was never about Islam.

“The U.S. is not – and never will be – at war with Islam … bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims," Obama said. "Justice has been done."

Media outlets reported that bin Laden's identity was confirmed with the help of DNA from his deceased sister, who died in a Boston hospital after losing a battle to cancer.

A U.S. Government official announced that bin Laden's body was buried randomly at sea. However, even with bin Laden's death the U.S. is not out of impending danger.

, while the State Department announced a world-wide alert to U.S. travelers headed abroad due to the fear of retaliation.

 

Read how the story unfolded Sunday into the early morning hours of Monday:

Update, May 2, 3:09 a.m.: University of Maryland students gathered along Route 1 shortly after President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

By 2 a.m., students had completely blocked the northbound lane of Baltimore Avenue and only one lane was open going southbound.

For more on this read .

On May 2, 12:19 a.m: According to President Barack Obama in a televised speech Sunday night, a team of trained American military personnel found and killed Osama bin Laden Sunday at a compound in Pakistan.

This news comes just four months shy of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

bin Laden, 54, was the mastermind behind al-Qaida's attack of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a plane crash in Pennsylvania on 9/11.

"But his death doesn’t mark end of our efforts. We must and will remain vigilant at home and abroad," the President said in his speech.

In his brief speech, the President thanked the intelligence community – who secured leads on bin Laden's location in August. He also said that this fight was never about Islam.

“The U.S. is not – and never will be – at war with Islam … bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims," Obama said. "Justice has been done."

Media outlets are reporting that bin Laden's identity was confirmed with the help of DNA from his deceased sister, who died in a Boston hospital after losing a battle to cancer.

News reports will continue into Monday morning.

Original Post, May 1, 11:46 p.m.: Media outlets are reporting that Osama bin Laden has been killed.

A family in University Park — Charles S. Falkenberg, 45, his wife, Leslie A. Whittington, 45, and their two children Zoe Falkenberg, 8, and Dana Falkenberg, 3, were killed when their plane, American Flight 77, hit the Pentagon

Zoe was a student at University Park Elementary School.

Sheila M.S. Hein, 51, of University Park, was also killed while working at the Pentagon when the plane hit.

The town erected a memorial in their honor and in honor of the other lives lost on 9/11.

Sarah Nemeth and Erica R. Hendry contributed to this report.

Jeffrey Yorke May 05, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Bin Laden was buried randomly at sea. Randomly? I doubt it. Seems to me that this entire event was planned out very well, every detail considered, probably all the way down to exactly where to place the bad man's body. We should all consider banning "randomly" and "random" from our lexicon. While we're at it, add "basically" and "absolutely" to the list of banned words.

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