Airport security tightened in Burbank and long-held emotions were cut loose in Glendale as news surfaced Sunday that U.S. Navy Special Forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Burbank physician Yeneneh Betru died in the 9/11 attacks on American Airlines Flight 77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
After the attack, a clinic in Betru’s name was established in Addis Ababa, the capital of his native Ethiopia.
Dottie Price, director of clinical programs at North Hollywood’s IPC The Hospitalist Company, worked closely with Betru, traveling with him to interview newly hired doctors to generate educational materials.
She described him as a gentle, peaceful man dedicated to improving medical care. She last spoke to him on Sept. 10, 2001, and believed that the next day he was going to tell her that he had become engaged to be married.
“I think of him often, with deep sadness for a life cut too short and the reality that we were robbed of his ongoing contribution to medicine,” Price said in an email. “I would not honor him and his memory by hating and wishing revenge for his death. I’m not sure I can close the book on 9/11 other than wish it never happened.”
But for others, bin Laden’s death helped close a chapter.
“It was the first time I cried in a long time, since we buried my brother,” said Brandon Valvo, a Glendale native whose brother Carlton Valvo II died at the World Trade Center when terrorist planes struck on Sept. 11, 2001.
Valvo said a torrent of emotion coursed through him when he learned bin Laden had been killed, from elation and long-simmering anger, to gratitude for the work of U.S. armed forces and political leaders.
“It really comes down to it being bittersweet,” Valvo said. “It doesn’t bring Carl back, but it allows us to move forward.”
Carlton Valvo II lived in New York and worked for the financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald at the time of the attacks.
“We feel justice is served,” said Valvo’s father, Dr. Carlton Valvo of Glendale.
“The emptiness is there, as it is in many families. This brings closure in many ways.”
Bob Hope Airport officials immediately tightened security Sunday evening, as law enforcement agencies across the nation braced for possible Al Qaida reprisals.
Airport Police Chief Ed Skvarna told the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday that his officers beefed up security and began coordinating with agencies ranging from the FBI to the LAPD.
“We have put measures in place that will raise security ... and visibility of police officers to make sure this place remains safe,” Skvarna said.
Airport officials declined to detail the steps they were taking.
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) expressed a sense of accomplishment and relief after hearing news of bin Laden’s death, but said they were concerned about the stance of the Pakistani government, which apparently did not participate in the discovery of the lavish, heavily fortified residence in a city just a short distance from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
Sherman characterized Pakistan as a “frenemy” of the United States that neither helped nor hindered the U.S. effort to find bin Laden.
Schiff said bin Laden’s execution “is a very significant milestone” for the United States, families of 9/11 victims and those who have served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This is their victory, too,” he said.
“I think we all share their sense of relief that he has finally been brought to justice, and optimism that we can bring others of his ilk to justice.”