U.S. President Barack Obama was preparing to announce Osama bin Laden was dead when word got out and crowds started gathering late Sunday outside the White House in Washington and at Ground Zero in New York City.
From Times Square to Ground Zero to the White House, the familiar chant of "USA , USA" resonated as citizens learned that the Osama bin Laden was dead.
The announcement sparked immediate jubilation. In Time Square, people gathered around giant news tickers to see the latest updates. Pam Sather recalls the moment she heard the world's most wanted terrorist was dead.
"It is just amazing, we were just walking out of a pizza joint," she said. "And, all the sudden we saw in the bar on the television. We were just glued."
At the White House, young Americans climbed trees, climbed light posts, donned American flags and sang the national anthem.
The feeling was euphoric as thousands of Americans gathered in front of the White House just hours after U.S. President Barack Obama made the announcement that Osama bin Laden was dead.
For many, including student Kathryn Costello, it became a moment of reflection, thinking back to the nearly 3,000 lives lost on September 11, 2001, an act of terror Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for.
"I think a lot of us have grown up with the memory of 9/11 and sort of this constant notion of a threat and the danger of terrorism," said Costello. "So this is a triumphant moment for all of us."
For many U.S. soldiers, including U.S. Marine Jake Diliberto, this is a day they have been fighting for.
"We feel really really vindicated that we finally got him," he said. "This is our generation's VE, VJ. This is our generation's victory and enduring freedom day."
Patriotism filled the air outside the White House into the early hours Monday.
Two hours after the announcement, with celebrations still roaring, the U.S. Secret Service brought in barriers to push back revelers from the White House.
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International student Sunny Shih said the importance of the historical moment reaches beyond the gates of the White House.
"This is a very important moment for not only the U.S.A., but for the entire world," said Shih.
Many world leaders are praising the achievement of U.S. military forces Sunday in Pakistan, who killed Osama bin Laden, captured his body and buried it at sea. But they are cautioning bin Laden's death elevates security risks around the world.
Back at the White House, the focus remains on the justice the president said was delivered.