I logged onto Twitter Sunday night to escape writing the concluding paragraph of my last college paper for my last college class ever. Six hours and twelve long, grueling pages on assimilation into American culture later, I longed for a much-needed outlet of relief for a few minutes, before I cranked out the last page. When Twitter’s website opened up on my phone, with quick blurb updates rapidly appearing and soaring down the page the quickest I had ever seen the website move, all posts by people, groups, companies, newspapers all over the world, I realized I received the outlet I was looking for—news that Osama Bin Laden was dead.
My two roommates and I quickly turned on the news to find out the scoop. Was it true? Could it finally be? Almost ten years later? How do we know for sure? And most importantly, how did this happen?
We waited the extra 45 minutes to hear the President address the nation. Our phones buzzed with family members and friends calling and asking if we heard the news, as we watched a crowd of more than 700 people surround the White House while they gathered together, holding our nation’s flag and chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” More tweets with regards to the news overflowed, and Facebook, as well as every other social networking site, I’m sure, updated so quickly, I’m surprised it didn’t experience an overload.
As we sat on the couch and took in the news and conversed and discussed it amongst ourselves, we heard fireworks go off in our apartment complex from the neighbors across the way. Red, white and blue ones. We walked out onto our front porch to watch them, along with every other person who lives in Copper Beech. More than a handful of college students stood silently and awed at the fire illuminating the sky above our heads. There, in the dark of night, we watched the colors of our nation soar through the air and burst and explode with force and pride, as they contrasted ever so brightly against the black night sky. It gave me chills. It gave all three of us chills.
We went back inside and sat down and silently continued to watch the news. More information. More waiting. More footage of the crowd in Washington D.C. As the camera panned the audience screaming and cheering, the silence in our own apartment broke.
“Guys, when your children ask you where you were when this happened, you’re gonna get to say you had the honor of being with me.”
A typical serious, yet playful comment from my roommate Jill. And although Jill was only joking when she said it, I couldn’t help but think that she was right. I would always remember the story behind the news.
We watched as President Obama informed our nation of the recent happenings. We listened as he explained the news. Thanked the soldiers. Remembered and revered the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Almost ten years, it would be since our nation was struck with tragedy. We listened silently and intently, and I waited for Jill to pose a second question that I highly anticipated: Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was on the upper floor of St. Ann Regional School in Wildwood. Our class was silently working on math equations or some sort of English fragmenting worksheet. I was in seventh grade. Our teacher left the room with another teacher after being summoned to the front door of the classroom. She told us to continue working quietly. A friend, who just so happened to be walking the halls from her return from the restroom, said she heard crying from the teacher’s lounge, where majority of the teachers were gathered. She told the class something terrible had happened to us. And by us, she meant the United States.
Our principal came over the loud speaker a few minutes later. She told us to pray for those suffering in our nation. She told us to pray for peace for all of mankind. She told us to pray for answers. What she did not tell us, however, was what happened.
I didn’t find out until hours later, when my mother picked my brothers and me up from school. She cried. She told us our President was in hiding. Planes had hit New York City. Many people died. A true tragedy. I remember the fear that suddenly paralyzed my body. The pain I felt for those who were personally affected by the situation. Then the anger and bitterness that followed for whoever did such a terrible thing.
Those feelings came back last night as I watched a President Obama address our nation. I got the chills for the second that night, when I listened to our President say, “Justice has been done.”
Image taken from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenhill/galleries/72157624404681004/