After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Gary Weddle began following the news so closely he forgot to shave. After a week he decided not to shave until Usama bin Laden had been caught or killed.

Nor has Weddle, 46, who expected the Al Qaeda leader to be caught within a month or so, trimmed his facial hair in the succeeding five years as he went from substitute teacher to science instructor at Ephrata Middle School.

At the start of each school year he gives students a brief explanation of his beard, which stretches more than a foot long and has started turning gray.

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"I still get emotional over the families who lost loved ones. I just don't feel there's any closure on this until they get that guy," Weddle told The Wenatchee World for an article published Monday. "I don't have to know anyone personally who lost family in 9/11 to understand the devastation that he's responsible for."

His wife, Donita, hates the beard, while their three daughters, who attend Eastmont High School in East Wenatchee, don't mind and "mostly their boyfriends think it's cool," Weddle said.

He said he would keep the beard, untrimmed, as long as bin Laden remains at large — "even if I get buried with it."