May 2, 2011

Party in the USA

Last day, while I was laying in bed in my pajamas and watching The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when I saw on my Twitter newsfeed that Obama was set to make an important decision at 10:30. Naturally, I flipped over to CNN and Wolf Blitzer was also sitting around checking his own Twitter to try and figure out what was going on. My roommate and I were betting that it was Libya, especially with all the news of NATO bombing and killing the son of Qadafi. As the minutes ticked on, however, Twitter started exploding about the death of Osama. 

Another friend of mine online was also closely following it. Well let's face it, I go to GW- everyone was closely watching it. And as time kept passing and Wolf kept getting those annoying little 'dings' on his Blackberry, I looked at my roommate and said "I kind of really want to go to the White House right now". We decided that we could always watch the speech later and then we booked it to the White House.

Spiderman saving the day
As we step out of the elevator of our dorm, I hear the "Team America" theme song blasting in the streets and college kids running around with flags tied to the their back. We decide that it's only a couple of blocks away so we are going to just run there. So we start sprinting down the streets and you can kind of feel this amazing energy in the city. 

When we got to the White House, there were only about 50 people there. Within minutes, there were hundreds and within the hour- thousands. People were screaming, singing everything from "God Bless America" to "We are the Champions". The air was electric. I think the last time I felt anything even similar to that was in 2009 with Obama's inauguration. And yet, this was still different. It felt like we were all letting out a huge, collective sigh of relief. 

Everyone outside of the White House last night were college students. That meant we grew up in an era before we were told that we had to be afraid. A time before when we received little airplane wings from pilots and weren't concerned about which color threat level we were in. We are a lucky generation in that we got to straddle both sides of a very different America: one that was blissfully unaware and protected and one that has become scared to a point of paranoia. We were kids when our teachers collected us in school gymnasiums and explained to us in the simplest words possible on how we had been attacked and thousands of our fellow citizens had died. We were young when it happened, but we still all remember that day. Where we were. What we felt. The day after. The first time we felt it was okay to laugh.

I don't really know who keeps a skintight costume of an
American flag handy, but I'm glad he does. He stole
the show.
That is why I think the demonstrations outside the White House were so celebratory. It was not about the death of a single man, a man who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people. It was more about us reclaiming an aspect of ourselves that was taken away from us: our belief in our country again as that infallible, indestructible protector. We ran through the streets, we honked our car horns, we sang sons and cheered "Cancel finals!" We were kids again. We weren't scared about terrorists, we weren't thinking about our tense bipartisan politics or the the complexities of foreign affairs- we were just kids hanging off of trees and playing in the streets. It was one of the most beautiful things I think I have seen in this country, and I am so incredibly proud I was able to be there to witness it.


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