Since Osama bin Laden’s death, the mood has been more somber than celebratory for , whose three sons joined the Army after the Sept. 11th attacks.
“It’s good that we got rid of another despot,” said Conklin, whose organization helps severely wounded soldiers re-enter civilian life. “But this war on terror changed our whole culture and society in ways that are going to affect us for a very, very long time.”
That’s true on a personal level for the 56-year-old San Ramon resident. Conklin’s oldest son was wounded in April 2003 while fighting in Iraq.
“This all has to be put into perspective,” said Conklin. “The faster people forget about Osama bin Laden, the better. We just got to maintain constant vigilance and constant support for the men and women who protect us.”
The remarried 9/11 widow, who lived in San Ramon at the time, lost her husband, Tom Burnett Jr., when terrorists crashed his plane into a rural Pennsylvania field.
Attempts to reach Burnett-Bailey for this article were unsuccessful.
The 38-year-old Burnett, chief executive officer of Thoratec in Pleasanton, was one of 40 passengers on United Flight 93 – the third plane hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
That's the flight "where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction," as President Barack Obama said in Sunday night's address to the nation.
Burnett-Bailey tuned to the news that morning nearly a decade ago to watch planes smash into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon when her husband called – he was on his way back from a business trip. He told her that with help from the other passengers, he would try to overtake the hijackers, who had already stabbed someone on the flight.
“Don’t worry, we’re doing to do something,” he told Deena, his final words to her before he died.
A year later, the city of San Ramon dedicated Memorial Park to Burnett, “a hero of United Airlines – Flight 93,” reads a plaque beneath the flag posts on the corner of Bollinger Canyon Road and San Ramon Valley Boulevard.
The city of Pleasanton also honored Burnett, naming a street near his medical company Thomas Burnett Lane.
A few years later, San Ramon placed another bronze plaque at Memorial Park, one to Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle D. Crowley, who died while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 6, 2004.
Danville also lost some of its own in the 9/11 attacks.
John Hart, also 38 years old, had just been named a top executive of Franklin Templeton Investments. He was in one of the World Trade Center towers struck by a plane.
Family members of other victims were relieved but shaken over news of bin Laden's death. Danville resident Carole O'Hare's retired mother was flying to visit her from New Jersey when she died on Flight 93. O'Hare had bought her the ticket.
"I was always hoping they'd catch him one way or another," O'Hare said, adding that she is not a vengeful person. "I'm relieved that he can't hurt anyone anymore."
Three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, O'Hare flew to Shanksville, Penn., where the hijacked plane went down.
"It was traumatic," she recalled. She said, however, that it was important for her to go, in part because otherwise she feared she would develop an aversion to airline travel.
Over the past 10 years, O'Hare has worked with other Flight 93 families to build a memorial for the passengers, which will be dedicated in New York on Sept. 10.
But bin Laden’s death does bring a sense of closure, despite those losses, said Gordon Felt, president of the nonprofit foundation Families of Flight 93.
"This is important news for us and for the world,” he said. “It cannot ease our pain or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the Sept. 11 tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."
Others echoed that sentiment.
"It's definitely closure," said Linda Perricone, a retired quilter who sipped coffee at Tully's in downtown Pleasanton on Monday morning.
"Ding dong, the witch is dead," she said.
Then Larry Fanfa, a 35-year Pleasanton resident, added: "Yeah, but in this case, the witch has three sisters that are still alive." He was referring to bin Laden's family and supporters, who many worry will lash out at the United States.
"I'm just so glad that he doesn't have to go on trial — this way, it doesn't get dragged out, and we can move forward," Perricone said.
Both said they hoped this meant U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan could come home.
"It'd be nice, but I don't think it's going to happen," said Fanfa.
- Bin Laden's New York Times obituary
- Huffington Post blogs about the death
- Full list of Sept. 11 victims
- Read more about the cost of the war on terror: $1.28 trillion
- Kristen Breitweiser, another 9/11 widow, writes about her reaction to bin Laden's killing
– Pleasanton Patch Editor Tanya Rose and Bay City News also contributed to this report.