The news of Osama bin Laden's death spread rapidly across New Jersey and Holmdel Sunday evening, despite the late hour.
At 11:30 p.m., President Barack Obama confirmed the news. In a dramatic address televised from the East Room of the White House, the President said a small U.S. team launched a military operation in Pakistan yesterday, killing bin Laden and took custody of his body. "Justice has been done," he said.
"The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al-Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort....We must and we will take remain vigilant at home and abroad," said Obama. (See video attached.)
Reaction was swift and almost universal: Exultation that one of the United States' most elusive foes was dead, and dead as a result of U.S. action.
The news was announced to Holmdel Police on the road in a rare announcement over their radio system. "All cars! Osama bin Laden is dead."
It took only a moment for another officer to respond, "Good!"
On Monday morning, in his office where a framed photograph of the 9/11 tragedy at the World Trade Center hangs on a bare wall, Lt. Michael Smith said, "We're very happy that justice has been done. It's been a long process, and its been hard for the families to endure."
Mayor Patrick Impreveduto said his thoughts were with the families waking up to the news. "Not that it will bring closure, but I hope that people in Holmdel, and all families, can get some solace from in this – that this worthless individual that killed so many Americans has finally met his own demise."
The following Holmdel residents were killed, along with about 3,000 others, in the events on September 11, 2001 masterminded by Osama bin Laden: Paul V. Barbaro, age 35; Chih Min (Dennis) Foo, 40, Michael Patrick Laforte, age 39; Matthew Picerno, age 44; Gregory M. Preziose, age 34; Gregg Reidy, 26, age 26; Eric A. Stahlman, age 43.
Holmdel Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Simpson said, "I realize that the fight against terrorism is not over and that we all must continue to be vigilant and aware," But, he added, "As a private citizen I salute our military and our special forces for this success but I am concerned that this may turn out to be a symbolic victory only and we could see retaliatory attacks happen. Only time will tell."
Holmdel Fire Dept. Chief Tom Savage said, "It doesn’t replace the people we lost, but I’m grateful that justice was served."
Township Clerk Maureen Doloughty, the mother of a serviceman, and a township representative who often runs collections for other Holmdel soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, said, "I was raised Catholic and as much as I try I cannot muster up any feelings other than gratitude. I am beyond grateful to the brave men who carried out this mission. I hope that the families of 911 can take some comfort in this. As the President said: "' Justice has been done.' "
The mother of 24-year old Marine 2d Lt. Christopher Campis of Holmdel said she went to Mass this morning at St. Catharine's to give thanks and pray for her son's safety. She stopped by Town Hall to share a hug with Doloughty, who understands her worry.
"My urge is to call my son on his satellite phone and say, be extra careful," Francine Campis said. She said Bin Laden was on his way to "meet his maker."
"The devil was on his shoulder," said Campis.
State lawmakers, who represent Holmdel, issued the following statements.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) issued a statement, in part:
“As a nation, we may all feel some measure of closure that justice was accomplished. That through persistence and continued perseverance Osama Bin Laden and others were found and held accountable....
"May we all join together in unity, grateful to those in our military who everyday put their lives at risk and sacrifice greatly to protect our nation. Let us be especially grateful to those who put themselves at risk to bring Bin Laden to justice.
"My thoughts and prayers, along with those of all New Jerseyans, are with those who lost family and friends on 9/11. Hopefully they can find some solace and a measure of closure today."
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) issued the following statement after learning that Osama bin Laden was killed:
“People across the civilized world will have great satisfaction and relief with news of the death of Osama bin Laden, one of the worst killers in the history of man. He was a ruthless terrorist responsible for a savage mission that killed thousands of innocent Americans and others around the world. Now we must be particularly diligent and let the message get out that we we’ll do whatever is necessary to stop this kind of madness. Osama bin Laden’s disciples must know that the free world is united against terror and will fight terrorists no matter who they are, where they hide and no matter who their protectors might be. A 9/11 must never be allowed to happen again. I commend the bravery and sacrifice of all those who have been engaged in the pursuit of terrorists and all of those who continue to fight the insanity that drives terrorists who believe they can follow in this course.”
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) issued this statement on Monday.
“Today, America's military and intelligence services demonstrated why they remain the best in the world. Osama bin Laden's removal will not immediately end the threat of terrorism against the United States, but his death represents a crippling blow to the organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I congratulate President Obama and the dedicated and brave members of our military and our intelligence services for acting to eliminate this threat to the American people. “The length of time this has taken to accomplish—more than 13 years since the embassy bombings—reminds us that military and paramilitary operations have limitations and the fight against terrorism requires a multifaceted approach and reminds us that we must develop as much international cooperation as possible to defeat it."
Finally, Governor Christopher Christie had this reaction:
"I want to commend President Obama's Administration for its commitment and dedication to finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.
"As the former U.S. Attorney and now Governor of New Jersey, I speak for all the families of this state who have courageously endured the unspeakable and devastating consequences of terrorism," Christie said. "There is hardly a life that has gone untouched in New Jersey by the horrifying assault on American soil that took place on September 11th and today, after years of waiting, justice has finally been delivered. While our fight against terrorism continues, Osama bin Laden's reign of terror has come to an end, sending a clear signal that even in the face of immeasurable horror, democracy and freedom continue to prevail."
We invite you to post your thoughts below about Sunday evening's news. Feel free to use this space to remember people who once lived in Holmdel at the time of 9/11, or who had a connection to Holmdel Township.