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'My Beautiful Karen Is Smiling in Heaven'

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'My Beautiful Karen Is Smiling in Heaven'

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'My Beautiful Karen Is Smiling in Heaven'

'My Beautiful Karen Is Smiling in Heaven'

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Listen To The Original 'StoryCorps' Story

Investment banker Richard Pecorella lost his fiancee Karen Juday in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. She worked as a secretary at the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of the North Tower. He talks to Steve Inskeep about how he got the news Osama bin Laden had been killed.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And let's go now to New York investment banker Richard Pecorella. His fiancee, Karen Juday, died on 9/11 in the attacks on the World Trade Center. She was a secretary at the financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 101st floor of the North Tower.

Mr. Pecorella, welcome to the program.

Mr. RICHARD PECORELLA (Investment Banker): Good morning.

INSKEEP: Would you tell us how it is that you learned the news last night?

Mr. PECORELLA: I was on the Internet - on Facebook - and somebody sent a message: Just heard bin Laden was killed, bin Laden was killed. And then I turned on the TV and started watching all the news media reporting it. And I've been up since about 11 o'clock last night until 3:30 this morning, watching it and texting people and saying, they finally got him; they finally got him. Thank God. We finally got the guy who murdered our family.

INSKEEP: You mean, you're texting with other ...

Mr. PECORELLA: Jubilation at first, and it's some comfort that we finally got the supposed mastermind behind this. And I believe my beautiful Karen is smiling in heaven today.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The name of the NPR correspondent that Steve Inskeep was referring to is Robert - not Richard - Smith.]

INSKEEP: We heard, from Richard Smith, some people celebrating and chanting; other people feeling very, very somber. Which of those descriptions best captures the way you've been feeling this morning?

Mr. PECORELLA: I mean, I was jubilant, you know, initially, when I heard it. I said, I hope they really did get him - because the media was coming back and forth, told so many different stories at first. And then once they - I realized that they really did get him, I was more somber and, you know, looking up to the sky, saying: Karen, they finally got him. He's burning in hell, and you're smiling in heaven.

And it is some comfort, and it is some relief. But the war is not over with this yet. I have a feeling that they're going to try and come back at us again now.

INSKEEP: You know, we've heard so much, and we will hear so much, about the life of Osama bin Laden. I want to be reminded of Karen Juday's life. Some people heard in 2005, when in our series Story Corps, you were on our air talking about Karen. Would you remind us who she was?

Mr. PECORELLA: Well, Karen was a little farm girl from Indiana who I met at a NASCAR race in 1997. We fell in love; she packed her bags and moved to New York about two weeks later. And she became a New Yorker right away. I mean, she loved New York; she loved the city. She got a job at Cantor. I set her up on an interview and they loved her there, and she worked her way into the administrative assistant to the to chief of operations, and she had - we had a great life together.

And she loved the Trade Center; she loved everything about New York. She said this is her home now, she'd never go back to Indiana. And it was just - she was the love of my life. I was divorced and she was divorced, and we finally found each other. And it only lasted a little more than four and a half years, and this guy took her away.

INSKEEP: What's it been the last been like the last nine and a half years - not just to have that loss, but to have constant reminders of it in the news?

Mr. PECORELLA: Well, I'm very active with the groups, the families, and the museum people, and with Story Corps, and I'm a driving billboard. I have never-forget photos of Karen in all my windows of my car. So I drive around just to show people that, you know, don't forget what they did to us. And you know, I have someone that I'm seeing now, and she's very supportive of me, and she comes to all the ground zero events and anything I do related to 9/11.

INSKEEP: Mr. Pecorella...

MR. PECORELLA: And my life goes on, but I'll always love Karen and, you know, and I look for her every day and there's, you know - it's never going to end, the mourning.

INSKEEP: Mr. Pecorella, thanks very much. Richard Pecorella.

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