…I was a senior in high school, sitting in the library listening to a pitch from a state college when I heard the first news of the attack on the towers.
…I was in college, just finishing finals going into Christmas break, and was packing to go visit my Dad in Tucson when, “We got him.”
…I was in a bar in Lincoln, Nebraska when Saddam Hussein was executed.
…And I was watching a DVR’d episode of Desperate Housewives, making curtains for the basement windows when my husband read a headline that an announcement was coming from Obama at 10:30pm.
We immediately turned to live TV and joined in the speculation… A secret from Obama’s past? A nuclear threat? Gaddafi killed? Bin Laden? It was such an odd time of night to make an announcement, so we knew it had to be big. Tyler immediately called and texted the Congressman and all of his staff, all of his contacts on the Hill to try to get inside information.
As we waited and waited and watched the ever increasing news reaction, I knew it had to be Bin Laden. People just didn’t care enough about Gaddafi for this kind of coverage.
And then they made the announcement.
Osama Bin Laden is dead.
We jumped up and down. We cheered. We high fived. I was surprised at our reaction, but we were elated!
As we continued to watch the coverage, we saw the crowds gathering in Lafayette Park outside of the White House. I joked that we should go. And then I said, “Seriously, we should go.”
“No, really. Let’s go.”
So we jumped in the car at midnight, drove across the 14th street bridge, parked outside of Old Ebbitt Grill, and walked with the crowds of people over to the White House. Traffic was building and cars were driving up and down 15th street waving American flags out of the windows.
I hesitate to use the word celebrate… We weren’t there to celebrate as much as we just wanted to witness and take part in history. But there was definitely an air of excitement and the chanting of “U.S.A.” was contagious. People were running and cheering and clapping. Cars were honking. There were lights and drums and flags and signs. Bush t-shirts and Obama campaign signs. And people just kept coming and coming.
It was like we’d just won the Super Bowl or the World Series. I’d never been part of a crowd in this kind of mood. And it had nothing to do with alcohol. It was fascinating.
I had a smile on my face but there was also a bit of uneasiness in me as I watched and worried that this would just become bulletin board material for Al-Qaeda’s locker room. While most were respectfully jubilant, there were some chants I was uncomfortable with and behavior I did not want to be a part of.
But overall, I was proud. I saw a man running to the crowd on his prosthetic leg. Another man rolled up in a wheelchair with his service dog. I stood under the glow of the White House and watched the waving flags and couldn’t help but feel pride in my country. To celebrate that there was some vengeance for the lives of the 3,000 lost almost 10 years ago, the countless hours of work by special forces, the deep sacrifice given by our troops and their families. I was grateful. I was proud.
…In the wee hours of the morning on May 2nd, when we heard that Bin Laden was dead, we gathered at the White House and sang, “God Bless America.”