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Osama bin Laden dead: Stories of grief and celebration

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Correction: This story originally misstated the name and rank of Lieutenant General Timothy Maude. We regret the error.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Basmattie Bishundat made a promise to her son, who was killed when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon where he worked. She promised to her son that the day Osama bin Laden was caught – dead or alive – she would open a bottle of champagne for her son Kris Romeo Bishundat.

A letter saying Osama Bin Laden is dead and that the victims are not forgotten sits on the memorial bench for Lt. Col. Karen J. Wagner at the Pentagon Memorial. (Photo: Associated Press)

After almost a decade of grief, she finally opened it.

“I was the last one to see him alive that morning,” said Bhola Bishundat, Bishundat's father. “He looked me straight in the face - he said have a nice day and that was it.”

Bishundat was just three days shy of his 23rd birthday. He grew up in Waldorf and had been working for the Pentagon for only three months. But on September 11, at 9:37 a.m., a plane struck the Pentagon, killing him.

His mother said he’d be smiling at her and the bottle of champagne.

"That's why I am doing this,” said Basmattie Bishundat. “At least I am smiling today."

The killing of bin Laden was also a cause for celebration for some. On Sunday night and early Monday, scores of people gathered in front of the White House to celebrate President Obama’s announcement that bin Laden was killed.

Hundreds of students also rallied along Route 1 at the University of Maryland.

By Monday afternoon, it was more calm in front of the White House. Some took a moment of silence and reflected upon the day.

"Certainly it's a time to celebrate the accomplishments of our armed forces and our intelligence agencies, but I don't think it's the time to be climbing trees and screaming as they did last night,” said Gary Neuzil.

Meanwhile, just back from Afghanistan, Meghan Kellogg felt very emotional after hearing Monday after hearing the news or Obama’s death. Now back home, there’s no place she’d rather be than paying her respects at the Pentagon Memorial. Her father escaped unharmed from the Pentagon on 9/11 but her family friend, Lieutenant General Tim Maude, did not.

Kellogg said she hopes bin Laden’s death will take away some of the suffering for the victims’ families.

“Closure- haven't had for 10 years now,” Kellogg said.

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