"I didn't think about the person or the body that he lived in, it was just evil is dead," said Cartersville resident Melony Carter, referring to her initial reaction. "[I came here] to support the troops that helped make this possible, to help make it possible for us to do this. My father was a Vietnam vet, retired Navy 21 years, and I'm here to support those that have served before me and that are continuing to serve."
On Sunday evening, President Barack Obama addressed the nation -- "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-Qaida, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children. It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction."
According to the Associated Press, bin Laden was killed on Monday -- Pakistani time -- by a shot to the head during a firefight with U.S. Navy's SEAL Team Six in a compound north of the country's capital. After U.S. officials reported a photo analysis of the body and its DNA matched that of bin Laden, he was submerged into the North Arabian Sea.
"I was happy. I'm here for all the tears and the prayers and for the troops and all [their] courage," said Cindy Pruitt, who joined others on the I-75 bridge at exit 288 to show her support. "It's very emotional [to know] that one person could ... destroy so many lives and families and [now] there's hope that if anyone comes here to destroy us, we can find them eventually."
For Daniel Kincer -- a member of the Georgia Army National Guard who recently returned from a year tour in Afghanistan -- the news of bin Laden's death came as welcomed relief.
"It was a positive reaction -- long time coming," said Kincer, network administrator for Chemical Products Corp. in Cartersville. "I did not think it would take this long. I thought the day would come eventually. I thought it would be quicker though."
While there are concerns that al-Qaida could mount attacks in retaliation to bin Laden's death, Bartow County Administrator Steve Bradley said the county has not been placed on a "high alert" level.
"All of our law enforcement have been trained after 9/11," Bradley said. "They've been trained to be aware of things that would alert them of a concern. The citizenry has learned through the media things that would cause them to be concerned. I think probably the security that we have here at the courthouse was partially a result of what happened at 9/11 but probably more so [to] what happened in the Fulton County courthouse.
"But we do have more security in our government buildings, in our law enforcement, and our EMA representatives have had training in that. We're made aware through Homeland Security the need to increase our vigilance depending on the threat level. And the only thing that's been issued now is a travel advisory to Americans traveling. ... But I think everybody has a heightened sense of vigilance right now."