Stars and stripes are waving proudly as ever around Levittown today, as Americans awoke to a world without Osama bin Laden.
President Barack Obama confirmed Sunday night that the leader of al-Qaida, responsible for the 9/11 attacks, was killed during an operation he ordered inside Pakistan a week ago. The president added that American officials were in possession of his body.
Crowds of people flocked to Times Square last night to celebrate the death, and though they weren't among the revelers, some of Levittown's veterans were just as excited to hear the news.
"Thank God they killed him," said Vietnam War veteran and Levittown resident Jim Hasselmann. "I'm glad he's dead and I'm glad they disposed of his body with no fanfare. I'm proud; I think everybody's happy."
Hasselmann added he is glad bin Laden was killed instead of being captured and tried in United States courts.
"It would have taken five or ten years to try him in our justice system," said Hasselmann. "We saved millions, maybe billions of dollars not having a trial. I'm thankful that we don't have to go through that and that he's dead and taken care of."
A Vietnam veteran at Levittown's American Legion Post 1711 who declined to give his name was also happy to hear the news, and he noted retaliation by al-Quaida does not worry him.
"He got what he deserved," he said of bin Laden. "I'm very excited. The security is pretty good in this country; we'll be fine."
Kerry Grogan has two brothers in the Marines, both graduates of MacArthur High School. As Kieran Grogan, 19, serves overseas and Martin Grogan, 18, waits to be deployed, Kerry is more weary about the situation.
"I feel relieved that bin Laden was put to justice, yet scared," she said. "We did not put an end to al-Quaida, just their leader, and to be honest I'm scared this may backfire on us big time."
"I feel as if the military will become even more focused on putting an end to the al-Quaida people, which means more combat troops," she added.
Martin, who is currently in California attending Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) School with the Marines before he serves overseas like his older brother, shares Kerry's concerns.
"I think it's good that the U.S. Forces took out one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, but I don't think it will change the war too drastically," he said. "If anything it might have just made the al-Quaida forces more angry and given them more of a reason to keep fighting considering we took out one of their greatest leaders."
During Obama's announcement, Levittown resident Lou Cesario's mind was on the soldiers who have given their lives and the families who have lost loved ones in the past decade.
Cesario's son, Lou Jr., 23, is also a graduate of MacArthur High School and is currently in the U.S. Army Reserves.
"When I heard the news, my first reaction wasn't celebration," he said. "My mind immediately went to all of the soldiers taken, all of the families ripped apart. The whole thing kind of hit me and took me back to that, and how we will continue to have young men and women serving."
Cesario said he is proud to be wearing the American Bald Eagle on his t-shirt today.
"We have such devoted armed services; it's really extraordinary," he said. "These people weren't drafted; they volunteered. My son would have volunteered on Sept. 12, 2001 if he could have."
As for Lou Jr., "I'm sure he's crazy happy," Cesario said. "I'm sure he was fist-pumping big time."