NJ 9/11 widow can't forgive bin Laden

By Wayne Parry

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 2 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

FILE - In a Aug. 21, 2006 file photo, Barbara Minervino, widow of Sept. 11 victim Louis Minervino, touches the granite plaque for Louis at the Middletown World Trade Center Memorial Gardens in Middletown, N.J. For Minervo, the news that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda terrorist leader, caused her mixed emotions.

Mike Derer, File, Associated Press

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — It's right there in the Bible, in black and white: God can forgive all sins, and people on Earth should do likewise.

In the nearly 10 years since her husband was murdered along with thousands of others in the World Trade Center, this has caused Barbara Minervino tremendous turmoil. A lifelong Catholic, her religion has been at the center of her life, and forgiveness is a central tenet of the faith.

Yet she has had a hard time heeding that call for the man whose plot killed her husband, Louis.

News that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda terrorist leader, caused her even more mixed emotions.

"I know we're not supposed to be joyful at someone's death," she said Monday morning. "I'm happy that justice was done. I'm happy that we as a country have been vindicated, that we will not tolerate what was done to us."

Minervino's husband was a senior vice president at Marsh USA Inc., part of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc., a huge insurance brokerage. He was one of 37 Middletown residents killed in the 2001 terror attacks, the second highest 9/11 toll among New Jersey towns. Only Hoboken, with 57, had more deaths.

In the years that followed, Minervino drew strength from her faith and family, all the while struggling to come to terms with her tremendously conflicted feelings about bin Laden.

"We as Catholics are brought up to believe that God will forgive everyone if they're sorry," she said. "As I lay my head down on the pillow last night, I said, 'Lord, are you really going to forgive him?' I don't want to. I don't know that I can ever forgive him.

"Every day of my life is 9/11," she said. "I close the door to my house, and my husband is not there. I've gone through many medical problems and I need my mate with me and he's not there. I want to tell him about something that happened during the day, and I can't. And the reason I can't is because of this man.

"I just pray that however I'm supposed to feel, I'll eventually feel," Minervino said. "If God wants to forgive him, that's God. I can't."

Middletown is a commuter town near the Jersey shore, were hundreds of people catch trains to jobs in Manhattan each day. Since 9/11, the train station has become the symbolic and geographic center of grief. It was here that the enormity of loss started setting in by evening of Sept. 11, 2001, when dozens of cars remained in the NJ Transit parking lot long after it would normally be close to empty.

And it's here that a memorial garden with shiny polished headstones for each victim was built, with heartbreaking inscriptions on each one.

So as commuters pumped coins into newspaper boxes at the station to read blaring headlines like "Bin Laden Is Dead" and "Rot In Hell," they admitted having mixed emotions over the death of the al-Qaeda leader, who was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan early Monday.

Several commuters used the word "awesome" to describe their reaction to the news of bin Laden's death. But their enthusiasm was tempered with sadness over the lives of Middletown residents lost in the attacks, as well as the thousands who were killed in the two wars that ensued.

"I think it's awesome," said Diana Deems, who lives near the train station and was waiting for a train to Manhattan. "It was a long time coming, but I'm not surprised because he has a lot of supporters."

Mike Lonergan, a home improvement contractor, read Bible passages to commuters waiting for trains Monday morning, including one proclaiming "the wages of sin is death."

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