UPDATED Monday, 1:30 p.m.
Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has stirred the memories of many people touched by the tragedy, including those directly affected by the disaster in Gilroy and the South County.
It was on that day that 42-year-old San Martin resident Suzanne Calley, a passenger on American Airlines flight 77, lost her life when a group of al-Qaida terrorists took control of the plane and crashed it into the Pentagon.
Calley’s mother, Norma Keleher, said that bin Laden’s death has helped bring her closure.
“I’ve been thinking about this for 10 years,” she said. “I lost my daughter; he was the cause of it.”
Yet for Frank Jensen, Calley’s husband for 20 years, the shape of his grief has changed little after the announcement.
“I don’t know if I would call it closure-it’s the end of a chapter,” Jensen, now a commercial pilot, said, “It doesn’t bring her back, and it doesn’t change anything.”
“I still think about her every day, and I appreciate the support of the community,” he said.
The couple shared a love of travel and scuba diving, according to reports after her death.
Jensen has written on his wife’s online memorial book several times since her passing, most recently on Sept. 11, 2010.
“Zanne,” he wrote. “It has been nine years since I lost you. It is so hard to believe. Not a day goes by that you are not in my thoughts and my heart. I miss you and love you, guess I always will.”
San Jose-based Cisco Systems dedicated its 2002 annual report to Calley, a marketing manager at the company.
“This report is dedicated to the memory of Suzanne Calley, a member of Cisco’s team who was on American Airlines Flight 77 on September 11, 2001,” reads the report.
The company created the "Suzanne Calley Memorial Garden" at their San Jose headquarters in her honor, said Cisco spokesman John Earnhardt.
"It is planted in Suzanne Calley's favorite colors: purple and yellow. Two benches in the garden face east toward the sunrise since Calley particularly enjoyed mornings," said the spokesman.
Many firefighters, police and other emergency responders have felt deep personal grief after the 9/11 attack that claimed the lives of hundreds of rescuers.
At Gilroy’s Chestnut fire station, a crew, including Capt. Shaun Peyghambari, put off making dinner until after 8 p.m. while intensely watching the coverage of the announcement.
“We’ll never forget that day,” he said of 9/11.
Shortly after Sunday’s announcement, Gilroy Firefighters Association Local 2805 Secretary Jim Buessing said it was difficult to speak on behalf of a nation of firefighters affected by the tragedy.
“Among firefighters across this nation, the U.S.’s commitment to find those responsible for these attacks brings some relief,” he said.
Gilroy did not send any fire personnel to the rescue and cleanup after 9/11, he said, but many of those who went to help at the Twin Towers wreckage now suffer from respiratory and other health problems.
President Barack Obama announced to the American people during a speech Sunday night that American operatives had killed bin Laden in Pakistan.
"The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement of our country to date in our fight against al-Qaida," the president said.
Not far from Gilroy lives Alice Hoagland, the mother of Mark Bingham, who was killed during the 9/11 hijacking of Flight 93 while trying to prevent al Qaida terrorists from downing the plane. She expressed relief Sunday evening with the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. Forces.
Shortly before the plane went down, the 31-year-old Bingham called his mother, who now lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
She said the news has been emotional.
"We are taking in the news and we are relieved that the terrorist who masterminded 9/11 has finally been brought to justice and brought to justice by the hands of the United States," she said.
"I’m pleased and relieved that this has happened. My heart goes out to the families of the other victims of 9/11 ... I’ve missed my son every day ... and it feels that this is a little bit of closure for a terrible tragedy like 9/11."
Hoagland said families of other victims had called her to tell her the news.
"It’s been electric around here," she said. "I’m getting pretty excited here. [I'm] trying to temper the news with sobering thought that there might be some kind of ugly backlash."
Bin Laden is accused of being the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people when two suicide attacks by al-Qaida targeted the Twin Towers in New York City, and four commercial airliners were hijacked, killing everyone on board.
No U.S. troops were harmed in the weekend's operation, and they have taken custody of Bin Laden’s body, according to President Obama.
You can watch Obama's address here.