COLUMBIA -- All Anton Gunn could do was weep.

He wept for his brother, Cherone, killed at 22 aboard the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000 in a Yemen port.

Over all these years, Gunn has held Osama bin Laden responsible.

The massive former Gamecocks lineman and one-time South Carolina Democratic lawmaker wept, too, for his family, including his father, Louge, who once testified in a Norfolk, Va., civil trial that he even thought about killing himself after Cherone's death.

"I am thinking a lot and this is one of the most emotional nights in my life," Gunn said around midnight in the hours after America learned that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. armed forces. "Tonight has been a long time coming. It has been 11 years; 11 years since my brother was killed."

Gunn said the United States cannot stop now and must continue to go after al-Qaida terrorists.

He fears retaliation from the terror network, especially on the troops in harm's way.

"We need to go exactly forward exactly as President (Barack) Obama said: 'One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all,' " Gunn said. He served as political director of Obama's 2008 South Carolina presidential primary campaign. Gunn is now the president's regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Bin Laden's killing at the hands of U.S. military brought similar patriotic responses from two of South Carolina's congressional leaders, Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and Assistant U.S. Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn.

The two normally take markedly different political stances, but on learning of bin Laden's death, the two expressed gratitude for Obama and the country's servicemen and women.

"The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American forces is not only a great victory in the war on terror, but confirmation to freedom's enemies around the world about the inevitable end of a life of terror," DeMint said in a statement. "Like all Americans, my thoughts and prayers tonight go out to the families of the thousands of people who have been murdered by bin Laden and his al-Qaida accomplices, both in the terror plots he orchestrated and the ongoing war he started."

Clyburn said bin Laden's death is a "tremendous victory."

"Our lives were changed forever on September 11, (2001)," Clyburn said in a statement. "And although many years have passed, we still struggle with the wounds ripped open that day. This finally brings some closure to those wounds. God bless the brave men and women and their families who work every day to protect our nation and its people. God bless America."