TODAY   |  May 02, 2011

Americans rejoice over death of bin Laden

From college campuses to the White House and Ground Zero, Americans broke into spontaneous celebrations, cheering the death of terror kingpin Osama bin Laden. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 7:30 now on this monday morning, the 2nd of may 2011 . you are looking at ground zero from the top of the rock . people have gathered throughout the night upon learning the news that osama bin laden was killed by u.s. special forces . i'm meredith vieira inside studio 1a . matt is at ground zero for us.

>> this is one of those occasions, one of those news stories where people will stop and remember where they were when they heard the news that osama bin laden had been killed after a nearly ten-year search for him. you know, we'll be hearing stories all morning long about people and how they receive the news. thousands of people were watching a baseball game between the new york mets and the philadelphia phillies at citizen bank field when the news started to spread. people started to check their blackberrys and other communication devices and then spontaneous applause and the chants of " usa , usa ." an emotional scene in philadelphia. i'll be joined by tom brokaw who will have new reporting on how this operation unfolded in pakistan in a moment. meredith?

>> i had already gone to bed last night when we started getting phone calls from our children who are 22, 19 and 17 in different parts of the country, each one calling to say, mom, dad, put on the news. there was something surreal about it. i didn't understand what was going on but it's sunk in this morning, matt.

>> we are starting to hear a lot of reaction. i'm joined by nbc's ron allen . he's got more on how people in new york , across the country and other parts of the world are reacting.

>> this is usually a solemn place, but ground zero was transformed. people said it was the most e joyful occasion they have experienced here. when you look around the country there seem to be celebrations happening just about everywhere. outside the white house they began filling the streets, even before president obama had finished addressing the nation. a crowd in the thousands that poured from pennsylvania avenue into lafayette park .

>> i thought it was a way to be a part of american history . it has been a long fight.

>> reporter: so many said they were completely surprised, had no idea the dramatic late night announcement would be about osama bin laden . spontaneous celebrations erupted across the country. viewers sent in pictures of their own memories. at a sunday night baseball game between the philadelphia phillies and the new york mets, fans got the news on blackberrys, sending up a chorus of cheers for the usa . [ cheers ]

>> reporter: students emptied college dorms as word spread on twitter and social media .

>> i saw a bunch of people facebook updating about osama bin laden 's dead. god bless america

>> reporter: nowhere was it more profound than at ground zero . joy in a place usually heavy with loss. kevin lost his father, a firefighter. he's just back from afghanistan.

>> when i think about this, all the guys still there willing to put themselves out there.

>> reporter: firefighter rocco chiaracello was at ground zero when president bush warned the terrorists, including bin laden that they would soon hear from america.

>> it took almost ten years but thanks to the soldiers, the president, the firefighters.

>> reporter: in texas, a crowd adorned the gate of the former president's house in red, white and blue.

>> osama bin laden is dead. i had to bring the flag out tonight.

>> reporter: many who lost loved ones, it was triumph laced with pain of remembering the tragedy. for diane mazaroli who lost her husband michael, a businessman, knowing bin laden paid the ultimate price finally makes it easier for her to be at ground zero .

>> i come every year to the memorial which is a very sad thing. it's bittersweet. i was crying when it happened. but overall i'm happy. it's a day to celebrate.

>> reporter: a lot of jubilation, but a real mix of emotions for people here. a powerful night here in ground zero . the word i heard more than any was justice. some said vengeance, but more justice and a feeling that bin laden got what he deserved.