The surviving relatives of a North Laurel man who died during the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon said they are "overjoyed" at the news that U.S. forces killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden on Sunday.
Relatives of Max J. Beilke, who died during the attack on the Pentagon, said bin Laden's death brought closure to a loss they've been coping with for 10 years.
Sylvia Hess, Beilke’s daughter, said she stayed up all night watching news reports.
“It was sort of numbing,” she said. “It was surreal that this actually happened … I stayed up all night and celebrated. It called for a drink.”
Hess said in the years after her father’s death, she dealt with depression. Some days, she said, it became a struggle for her to get out of bed.
“I think [after bin Laden’s death] all of the deep-seated hatred came out of me,” she said. “I’m happy. I’m relieved … I can finally get rid of this anger. Justice had been served.”
Beilke was survived by his wife and two daughters, including Hess, and three grandchildren. Hess said she now cares for her mother, who is unable to speak. She, her mother and her son live in the North Laurel home that Beilke lived in since 1989, a few years after her retired from the military.
According to a Washington Post article that ran in the months after his death, Beilke was a Korean War veteran and retired Army master sergeant. Though he was originally from the Midwest, he settled in the area after his retirement in 1974.
In the years after his retirement, Beilke had become a veterans advocate, helping soldiers get their benefits as the deputy chief of Retirement Services in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in the Pentagon. Hess said she remembers her father as a loyal and dignified man who became a go-to for those in need.
“He fought for our vets,” she said.
Joseph Beilke, grandson of Max Beilke, said he was 21 when he learned his grandfather was a victim in the 9/11 attacks. He said the family had to learn how cope and move on.
“We’re please and overjoyed,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”