DALLAS—Supporters left American flags and patriotic red, white and blue balloons outside the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush in the hours after President Barack Obama announced a U.S.-led mission had killed Osama bin Laden.
A sign on the gate outside the street leading to Bush’s residence Monday read in small letters, "President Obama forgot to say ..." then continued in letters big enough to be read from the road, "Thank you President Bush."
President Obama telephoned his predecessor to tell him personally about the U.S. mission in Pakistan that ended the life of the terrorist leader.
As soon as the news was made public, dozens of people assembled outside the gate to the street where Bush lives. Some waved U.S. flags, others blasted car horns in celebration of the milestone in the war on terror.
They were also there to thank the former president for his commitment to bring bin Laden to justice.
"George Bush did so many great things for our country. We really wanted to be with him to celebrate this momentous day in American history," said Billy Fox, who was a fourth-grader on September 11, 2001.
"We love America," Fox said, clutching a U.S. flag. "This hangs in my dorm room every day, it’s my roommate’s, and I said we had to bring it out to celebrate America."
Fox said he was in the fourth grade on September 11, 2001
The crowd sang "God Bless the USA." One woman brought a poster of Osama bin Laden that had been shot multiple times.
Bush, who was home when he learned of bin Laden’s death late Sunday, released a statement congratulating President Barack Obama and praising the U.S. military personnel involved in the operation in northern Pakistan. Bush was in power on 9/11 when terrorists commandeered four commercial jets, crashing them in New York City, Washington and in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.
The president sent U.S. forces against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan in October 2001.
"This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001," Bush said in a statement Sunday night after Obama called to tell him of the terrorist leader’s death. "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Bush spokesman David Sherzer said Monday that the ex-president does not plan any additional statements.
A spokesperson for Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, said he had no comment.
Not everyone credited Bush for the eventual success in finding bin Laden. As heavy rain continued Monday morning, a sign left on the wet pavement near the gate leading to Bush’s home read, "Winning! Obama 1, Bush 0."
But U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison praised both presidents as well as others involved in the manhunt.
"That mission has now been accomplished through the patience and steadfast determination of our military, our intelligence officials, and the united leadership of Presidents Bush and Obama," Hutchison said. "Now we must continue to dismantle this and other terrorist networks that attempt to destroy freedom and human rights throughout the world."
Other Texas leaders also chimed in, praising the effort that tracked and killed bin Laden.
"On behalf of all Texans, I’d like to extend our gratitude to the brave men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to tracking this individual down, particularly the members of our valiant special forces who flew into harm’s way Sunday to finally put an end to bin Laden’s murderous reign," Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with those who will continue to wage our global fight on terror, placing their own lives on the line to keep us safe back here at home."
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott both released statements saying justice had finally been served.
"Let this serve as a grave reminder to all those who wish to do our nation harm: If you murder Americans, you will be hunted, you will be found and you will be brought to justice," Cornyn said.
Abbott said: "The face of evil has been eradicated thanks to American forces’ dogged pursuit of justice."
The Associated Press contributed to this report