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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Hank Gagnon of Manchester was decked out in patriotic regalia, complete with American flag, at Jackie's Diner on Main Street in Nashua Monday, May 2, 2011
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Ron Bru has operated the Big Apple Deli in Nashua for about 25 years. The mirrored rendition of the New York City skyline features the twin towers of the World Trade Center and is adorned with an American Flag.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden’s death spurs pride, some reservations

NASHUA – Hank Gagnon left little room for doubt on what he thought of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Gagnon, a pharmacy technician at Wingate’s Pharmacy, wore a tie designed to look like an American flag. And just in case anyone couldn’t see his shirt, he carried a small flag as he walked to lunch at a downtown diner.

“I’m glad he’s dead. He doesn’t deserve a trial,” Gagnon said Monday afternoon as he prepared to eat a ham-and-cheese club sandwich at Jackie’s Diner on Main Street.

As with many Americans, Gagnon spent the day reflecting on the news that the U.S. military had killed bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader who spearheaded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I’m so proud of our president. I’m so proud of our Navy SEALs,” said Gagnon, himself a retired Army staff sergeant, of the military team that killed bin Laden at a Pakistan safehouse.

Many people in the Nashua area interviewed Monday expressed reservations about seeing someone die, but then added that if anyone deserved death, it was bin Laden.

“Nobody’s happy killing anybody. Nobody likes it,” said Ron Bru, owner of the Big Apple Deli on Temple Street. “But he put himself in the hot seat. If he didn’t know it was coming, he’d be pretty stupid.”

In Merrimack, some wondered about the broader cultural implications of bin Laden’s death.

“(Terrorists) already hate us because we’re infidels,” said James Barr of Merrimack, who has been in Pakistan as a merchant marine. “As long as there’s hate, organizations like Al Qaeda and the Taliban are going to exist.”

Tending bar at American Legion Post 3 on Court Street, Mary Tissout said she had “kind of forgotten about” bin Laden. But she was glad the U.S. military found him and “no Americans were killed” in the mission.

Ernie Lefebvre, an Army veteran at the Legion, echoed many residents when he said bin Laden’s death doesn’t make up for the deaths of victims of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The loss that we incurred was incredible,” he said. “How do you … get back a mother’s son?”

Hudson resident Sue Cormier will never get back her nephew, Brian Kinney, who was killed on hijacked United Airlines Flight 175.

“I’m glad. It took long enough,” Cormier said of bin Laden. “But I’m not like the rest, dancing in the streets.” She added later: “I’m glad they got him, but that doesn’t stop the pain.”

Nashua resident Jonathan Klayton said bin Laden’s death seemed all the more rewarding knowing he had eluded the U.S. military in a December 2001 battle in the mountains of Afghanistan.

His wife, Andrea Klayton, said people will want to see proof of bin Laden’s death because they didn’t see him captured.

“As graphic as it is, we need something,” she said.

On the other hand Carol Montminy, owner of Jackie’s Diner, doesn’t object to the military throwing bin Laden’s body into the sea.

“Let the fish eat him,” she said.

Hudson Fire Capt. Dave Morin coincidentally discovered an e-mail from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on Monday morning, not long after hearing about bin Laden. Morin is president of the town’s 9-11 Memorial Committee, which has been trying to secure a piece of recovered steel from the World Trade Center.

In the e-mail, the Port Authority informed Morin that Hudson had qualified for a steel beam, and would soon be notified about when officials could get it.

In March, Nashua Fire Rescue obtained a steel beam from the World Trade Center. Nashua will use its beam as part of a memorial, as will Hudson – splitting the steel in half so each piece can represent one of the Twin Towers, while granite and grass will depict small-scale replicas of the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania where the hijacked Flight 93 went down.

Morin and other Hudson firefighters spent the weekend in New York, visiting with that city’s firefighters. The visit and news about the steel beam took on more meaning afterward knowing that bin Laden was dead, Morin said.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Morin said, “and they finally caught him.”

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com.