Husband of Sept. 11 victim says Bin Laden got off easy
By James Fuller
It’s been nine years since Marc Wieman watched the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapse from the Brooklyn Bridge and know that his wife, Arlington Heights native Mary Lenz Wieman, was dead.
Sunday night Wieman watched President Barack Obama inform the world the man most responsible for ending his 20-year marriage was also dead. Then he turned off the television and went to sleep. Unlike the thousands of his fellow New Yorkers gathering in jubilation over the news at ground zero, there was no celebration for Wieman.
“It didn’t end anything,” Wieman said. “It’s not like the war on terrorism is over.”
Neither is the life Wieman adjusted to in the wake of his wife’s death. On Sept. 11, 2001, Wieman became a single parent to three children, the oldest of whom was only 13. Wieman remarried about 18 months ago.
Every time he’s with his children, every year the anniversary of his first marriage comes around, every time he’s downtown and sees the empty sky where the World Trade Center used to stand it’s a flash of Sept. 11, 2001 all over again.
“I don’t dwell on it day to day,” he said. “You learn to live with the grief, not in the grief.”
The emotions are the scar of a wound that’s still apt to bleed if picked at. One of the reasons Wieman didn’t celebrate the news of bin Laden’s death is because he believes the terrorism icon got off easy.
“He’s a martyr now,” Wieman said. “I wish they would’ve caught him alive and waterboarded him a little. Maybe one day of that for each person he killed in 9-11. And I definitely want to see photos of the body. I understand trying to be kind to the Muslims and honor Islamic tradition. But hanging him from a flagpole down at ground zero would’ve been OK with me.”
Wieman spent the past nine years concentrating on being a good dad instead of that grief and anger.
“I believe I did that,” Wieman said. “They’re normal kids. Unfortunately for me, they are also normal teenagers. The hardest part has been dealing with that on my own. But they experienced all the things kids should experience. I did not hear the phrase, ‘We wouldn’t have done that if mom was here.’ I really strive not to hear that.”
The children of Mary Lenz Wieman and Marc Wieman are grown up or close to it. Chris Wieman is 22 and employed part-time. Alison is 18 and headed to Villanova. Mary Julia will have her sweet 16 birthday party in two weeks.
In 2002, with Osama bin Laden still at-large, Wieman said his mission was to make the rest of his children’s lives as normal as possible. The morning he awoke from the news of bin Laden’s death gave him occasion to stop and think about that.
“Mission accomplished,” Wieman said.