Crowds gather in NYC, D.C. after bin Laden killed

By Cristian Salazar

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 2 2011 12:46 a.m. MDT

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lemuel Nacionales, left, and Spc. Mark Anderson, right, cheer and wave flags on the "Freedom Bridge" just outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Sunday, May 1, 2011, near Tacoma, Wash., after they heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Hundreds of jubilant people streamed to the spot where the World Trade Center fell almost 10 years ago, waving American flags, snapping pictures and breaking into song early Monday to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden with the boisterous enthusiasm of a Times Square New Year's Eve crowd.

Many waved American flags or took pictures. One man climbed a light pole and waved the American flag to cheers below while others broke into song with renditions of "God Bless America" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

It was easily the happiest crowd ever at a site where more familiar scenes are bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace" and solemn speeches memorializing the dead during annual anniversary ceremonies in the decade since the terrorist attacks.

Stephanie Zessos, who lives in the neighborhood and works for the fire department, said sadness also was mixed in with the celebration.

"I texted a friend of mine who's a firefighter who lost a brother on 9/11, and he said the pain will never go away," she said.

Guy Madsen, 49, of Clifton, N.J., drove to the city with his son when he heard of bin Laden's death.

"It's really a terrific day for not just America but for the world. To have this cancer pulled from us is the right thing," Madsen said.

"This is Judgment Day and we're winning."

Farther uptown in Times Square, dozens stood together on the clear spring night and broke into applause when a New York Fire Department SUV drove by, flashed its lights and sounded its siren. A man held an American flag and others sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

And in Washington, D.C., a large group gathered in front of the White House, chanting "USA! USA!" and waving American flags. The throng had filled the street in front and was spilling into Lafayette Park.

Will Ditto, 25, a legislative aide, said he was getting ready to go to bed Sunday night when his mom called him with the news. He decided to leave his home on Capitol Hill and join the crowd. As he rode the subway to the White House, he told fellow passengers the news.

"It's huge," he said. "It's a great day to be an American."

George Washington University student Alex Washofsky, 20, and his roommate Dan Fallon, 20, joined the crowd.

"George Bush said, 'Bring him to justice, dead or alive,' and we did it," said Washofsky, a junior and a member of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps.

The crowd began gathering before President Barack Obama addressed the nation at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday. By midnight, people had filled a street directly in front of the White House and the celebration was spilling over into Lafayette Park to the north.

Some people sprinted up on foot to join the crowd. Others arrived on bicycles, and some people brought dogs.

American flags of all sizes were being held aloft, worn draped over the shoulders or gripped by many hands for a group wave. Some people climbed trees and lampposts to better display the flags they carried. Others without flags simply pumped their fists in the air.

The impromptu street party took on aspects of a pep rally, at times. Some people offered up the "hey, hey, good-bye" sing-song chant more typically used to send defeated teams off to their locker rooms. And Parth Chauhan, 20, a sophomore at George Washington University, trumpeted a vuvuzela.

In Dearborn, Mich., a, heavily Middle Eastern suburb that's home to one of the nation's largest Arab and Muslim communities, a small crowd gathered outside City Hall, chanting "USA" and waving American flags.

Across town, some honked their car horns as they drove along the main street where most of the Arab-American restaurants and shops are located.

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