As thousands paraded in front of the gates to the White House Sunday night, Kara Stauffer, an Ellington resident, was comfortably in the middle of the crowd.
The Catholic University of America student left the Washington, D.C., campus for the White House as soon as she heard the news that was spreading rapidly across the country: Osama bin Laden was dead.
''There are people engaging in U.S.A. chants all around. There is so much American Pride right now,'' she said in a text message sent early Monday. ''There is no room to move. It is absolutely crazy here. I am right in front of the White House surrounded by who knows how many …''
“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” the president said.
Within minutes after the words left the president’s lips, Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy called the death "a historic moment.''
“Nearly 10 years ago today, America suffered the worst attack from a foreign enemy on American soil,'' McCoy said. ''Today’s news reminds us of the loss and heartache suffered on Sept. 11, 2001. However, it also reminds us of America’s perseverance and strong will to uphold freedom, liberty and justice. Today, we have upheld those very principles. I would like to thank the brave men and women in the armed services for unselfishly fighting to keep America safe and free.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took a moment to remember the day when, as the mayor of Stamford, he stood on a train platform “as scared, confused, and overwhelmed commuters made their way home, none of us fully understanding what had just happened.”
“I also cannot forget the Connecticut residents we lost that day. Over the last decade, Connecticut men and women have served our country honorably, and some have made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. This news is a testament to the hard work, dedication and perseverance of our Armed Forces and our country," Malloy said in a news release.
Three people from north central Connecticut are listed as having been killed on Sept. 11: Amy King, 29, and Michael Tarrou, 38, both of Stafford Springs, and Margaret Quinn Orloske, 50, of Windsor.
Vernon native Kendra Corey Speck’s husband, David, served in Operation Desert Shield and the first Operation Desert Storm in the Air Force. He was one of the first to deploy in the Middle East prior to Sept. 11.
Speck said her husband was in Florida on Sept. 11. She said the uncertainty of what would happen next was traumatic.
"It was a scary feeling because I did not know where Dave might be deployed,'' she said. "But the Air Force called me to ask if I talked to my husband. If I had not, it would have been arranged so I knew he was OK.''
Late Saturday, in reaction to the news of bin Laden’s death, Speck said she sang a song from the Wizard of Oz, but substituted a few words for witch.
P.J. Reilly grew up in Greenwich and remembers the Twin Towers being built. Now a lieutenant in the Stamford Fire Department, he remembers Sept. 11 vividly.
"I was doing my daily duties at the fire station, and the deputy chief made an announcement that the World Trade Center had been attacked,'' Reilly said. "Everyone on duty gathered around the TV in disbelief.''
Reilly and his crew did not have much time to think.
''I remember when the first tower fell, I thought we just lost a lot of guys,'' he said. ''And when the second tower fell, we were gearing up to deploy to the Westchester Fire Training Academy. The feeling was surreal. And when the F-18 and helicopters were buzzing the sky, I knew we were at war.''
Reilly said crews from Stamford were moved to Yonkers to work as part of a step-up program of mutual aid.
A pair of steel columns from the first north face of the World Trade Center north building hit on Sept. 11 were recently to be incorporated into the existing Sept. 11 Memorial Garden in that town.
The announcement of bin Laden's death comes as a relief, Reilly said.
''It brings back a lot of the emotions that I felt that day,'' he said. ''It is vindication for the lives of the 343 brothers of FDNY that gave their all that day.''
As residents of north central Connecticut reacted joyfully to the news, they were also warned to take extra precautions when traveling.
The US Department of State issued a warning to citizens traveling and residing abroad about the potential for anti-American violence.
Stay up with HuffPost/AOL coverage of the story by clicking here, but share your thoughts in our comments section below. If you have a story to tell, e-mail associate regional editor Megan Bard at email@example.com.