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."
"We're glad he was brought to justice," he said. "I feel great. This has been something that stuck in everyone's craw for 10 years. You can see by the gut-level reaction of people flocking to ground zero or the White House to celebrate. It has brought back that great spirit that we feel as Americans — that spirit that we had lost."
James Yee is the former Muslim chaplain at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba who was arrested in 2003 and charged with mishandling classified material and other crimes in a suspected espionage ring. The criminal charges were later dropped. He now leads the New Jersey office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"We welcome the announcement that Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to our nation," he said. "It's important to note that it was with the help of Muslims that bin Laden was located and found."
He stressed that bin laden never represented Muslims or Islam and noted that many Muslims were killed on 9/11.
Given his experience at Guantanamo, Yee said he personally favors trying the plot's mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in federal court so that the entire world can see that he receives a fair trial.
Mohamed El Filali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, called bin Laden's death "a great thing." The mosque is the most influential in Paterson, one of the nation's largest Arab-American communities. Its members and officers have worked with law enforcement to improve relations after the 2001 attacks.
"It took 10 years, but we're happy it's behind us and we can start a new chapter in the nonviolent world we all dream of living in," he said.
Yaser El Menshawy, former chairman of the New Jersey council of mosques and current chairman of the Islamic Center of Hunterdon County, said bin Laden had been growing less relevant by the week due to the spontaneous uprisings sweeping the Middle East.
"What he was trying to sell was the only way to take care of the problem of governments in the Middle East was to attack the U.S. because they were supporting these governments," he said. "Once the revolutions and the toppling of regimes started happening, all of a sudden bin Laden lost a lot of his credibility because he wasn't able to accomplish anything with these regimes in 10 years, and people were able to topple them on their own within weeks."
At Newark Liberty International Airport, where one of the hijacked jets took off on 9/11, security was not noticeably tighter on Monday. Bonnie Wright, of Haworth, N.J. was heading to Jupiter, Fla.
"I'm just fascinated by the whole process, seeing people cheer," she said. "I was a little surprised by that. I would never cheer someone's death. I'm fascinated, just fascinated."
Vacationing Brazilians Raquel Silva and her husband, Emidio were waiting to board a flight to Miami, worried about what might come next.Comment on this story
"I think it was a victory, it was necessary to complete justice, but we are very apprehensive now," Raquel Silva said. "I think that al-Qaida will react, and I don't know what they are enabled to do."
Gov. Chris Christie praised President Obama's administration "for its commitment and dedication to finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice."
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg called bin Laden "one of the worst killers in the history of man."
Nearly one-quarter of those killed in the 9/11 attacks were New Jersey residents.
Associated Press writer Samantha Henry in Newark contributed to this story.