May 2, 2011

Last Night in the Downtown Kingdom of Awesome: Obama 1, Osama 0

I live two blocks from the World Trade Center; I can see it from my 18th floor window on Park Row.  Around midnight, after President Obama made his speech, I was talking to my friend Carl on g-chat.  Carl’s apartment literally overlooks Ground Zero, so I could only imagine what it sounded like to him:

Carl:  Is that noise bagpipes celebrating this?
 me:  I was wondering that too. What the fuck is that noise???
 Carl:  I bet its bagpipes and sirens in celebration
 me:  Really?? Already?
 Carl:  Remember, Osama bin Laden is not dead until Donald Trump has seen the death certificate.
 me:  Wow, there is crazy cheering going on, do you hear it by you??
 Carl:  Most def
 me:  Like wild yelling under my window
 Sent at 12:01 AM on Monday
 me:  Should we go to the WTC? It’s SO loud
 Carl:  Omg, it is really building steam
 me:  USA USA USA, they are chanting so loudly
 Carl:  Yeah, I want to see what’s going on
 me:  Okay, im putting on jeans
Carl's new status message - if you can't sleep because of em, join em.  #wtc   12:12 AM

So we went. The scene was wild.  It was not the number of people that astounded me, but the unity and camaraderie and volume of the massive cheering.  Hundreds of random New Yorkers gathered at one historic place in our incredible city.  We chanted “USA” and “Yes, We Can.” We sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and “We are the Champions.” There was a moment of silence. People waved flags, groups gathered by the chain-link fence surrounding what is now a giant hole in the ground and prayed. Camera crews gathered, while firemen marched and vets led cheers.  For ten years, there has been a melancholy emptiness where the Towers once stood tall; tonight, it finally felt like that void was filled.  It was genuinely powerful. And I was proud to be part of it.  As I write this now, hours later, I can still hear the cheering from my window.  It seems even louder than it did before. 
I learned about the Twin Towers while I was sitting in art history class, during my freshman year at Duke. I remember running for a TV in the Wilson commons room on East Campus, in disbelief.  Our entire lives, the whole world changed that day.  Last night marked the end of a decade; ten years of frustration and tragedy that shaped our foreign policy and stature in the world.  It reminded us of the tremendous togetherness we experienced after September 11th, the years of division we have experienced after it, the courageous lives we have lost, and the hope for a better future, a safer future, that we have always envisioned.  This morning, even more so than most mornings, it feels amazing to be a New Yorker.  Thank you to our troops, to the brave souls who risked their lives yesterday to end Osama Bin Laden’s, and to this kickass awesome country that we call our own.

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