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I’m a little bit hesitant to post this question in view of the gravity and seriousness of the matter to those who are directly involved with the 9/11 tragedies. But as a newspaper reader, I would like to understand the exact meaning of the words delivered by the mother of a firefighter who died on duty in the 9/11 attacks, when she learned that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S Military forces on May 1st.

She said:

I cried. I took a look up at the sky and said 'They got him!' Now the day has come, and it's a mixed emotion. It's sad; it's triumphant. I feel absolutely fantastic. I hope it brings some comfort to the families. No closure. That word should be stricken from the English language.
(New York Times May 3rd. Today’s Quote)

Could you explain to me the line - “No closure. That word should be stricken from the English language,” so that a non-native English speaker can understand it?

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Quite simply she's saying, "there can never be closure after a tragedy like this". By saying that she's sort of implying that "closure" would mean an end, and that people will forget about the tragedy if there is closure. It's an exaggeration that has come out of her desire to express anger and frustration. –  Django Reinhardt Jun 18 '11 at 15:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think you're referring to this article. It helps if you look at the paragraph before it and the paragraph after it. The paragraph before it:

For nearly 10 years, Lee Ielpi, 66, of Great Neck, N.Y., had anticipated the day Bin Laden would be caught or killed. His son, Jonathan, a firefighter from Queens, had called him on 9/11 to say he was on his way to the trade center, and never came back. Mr. Ielpi went to the site on Monday and spoke of a flood of emotions at learning the terrorist had been slain.

the paragraph after it:

Nearby, John Cartier, a Queens electrician whose brother, James, also an electrician, had died on the 105th floor of the south tower, was skeptical about another overused word. “Justice is a politician’s word,” he said. “It’s all about revenge for me.”

So in the context of the whole article and these paragraphs, my guess is that what the speaker is trying to say is that "closure" (like the word "justice") shouldn't be simply words that people speak but actually something that needs to carried out. For those families who actually suffered, the implication might be, is that using those words ("closure", "justice") might actually do the opposite - it doesn't bring them any closure in the real sense of the word and the fact that it took almost 10 years to track down Osama might not be justice.

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@pageman.Yes. It was the words of Mrs. Lee Ielpi, 66, of Great Neck, N.Y.,you exactly refered to. I understood what she meant by 'closure.' Can you elaborate a bit more on the line 'The word should be stricken from the English language.'? –  Yoichi Oishi May 4 '11 at 5:42
    
@Yoichi: stricken from means remove, so she means "please dont refer or use this word (in English) to describe how we feel" - it is not possible for those suffering people (who suffered the first-hand tragedy) to achieve closure –  JoseK May 4 '11 at 5:49
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@JosK Reading your answer, I started to think Mrs Ielpi’s word as ‘There is no settledown (ending) of my sorrow (pains of heart). I wish to cross the word, ‘settle down’ out entirely from English vocaburary.’ I’m not sure if my interpletation is on the mark. –  Yoichi Oishi May 4 '11 at 7:40
    
Yes. That's pretty much it. "Ending" would probably be a better substitute than "settle down", as closure refers to something coming to a close, an end, or conclusion, or something that physically closes. A door, lid, or a zipper could all be called a "closure", but it's somewhat rare to use the word in a physical context. –  Phoenix May 4 '11 at 10:03
    
Oh, also, "cross the word" is a good use for "stricken". Stricken is the past participial of "strike". To say that something is to be "stricken from the Earth" is literally to attack it until it no longer exists. However, in the context of words, such as to say that something is to be "stricken from the record" (usually in a legal setting), is to literally draw a line across the words, indicating that it is erroneous or not to be considered at all or both, and is the origin of the "strike through" formatting option in most text editors. –  Phoenix May 4 '11 at 10:11

It means that the speaker does not feel closure, and that she does not believe in it as a concept. Literally, she wants the word removed from the language so that no-one can refer to the concept.

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