Celebrating Outside the White House the Night Osama Was Killed

Loyola University student Matthew May shares his story from the night Osama bin Laden was declared dead.

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Matthew May

Washington, DC - 10:30pm Sunday night was the moment I found out about the death of Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world. I would shortly thereafter discover that America was behind this act.

Within about 20 minutes, President Obama gave a speech as fluid and patriotic as the water that flows in the Potomac River. You could visibly see the goose-bumps from miles away sprouting up, covering every inch of every single one of our bodies, for one reason and one reason only: pride.

By the act of one man and the brains of hundreds, in the matter of a split-second, there was nothing anybody in this country was more proud of other than the fact that we were American. Watching the news and seeing the masses of students from all over Maryland pouring into the streets and parks surrounding the White House, provided me and my roommate the incentive to join in.

Some background: I am 75% Polish, and my roommate is 100% Korean; on that day we both, as well as virtually every other person in this country, became 100% American. The 30-minute wait at the train station, the 45-minute train ride from Baltimore to Washington DC (the conductor let we college students ride for free out of solidarity), and the seven-minute cab ride from Union Station to the residence of the first-ever African-American U.S. president took me to a scene I couldn't have dreamed up.

MatthewMay2.jpgGrown men were draped in American flag versions of everything from togas to capes. There were news squads from channels of which I have never heard. I saw a man cannon ball into the foot-and-a-half deep water fountain that is directly outside the White House. Random people were kissing each other, seemingly out of national pride and relief.

From about 2:45am until about 4:30am, I can't remember a minute when there wasn't at least one "U-S-A" or "F-OSAMA" chant vibrating the streets.

My friends and I were asked a multitude of times for interviews, asking us to describe our emotions.  We felt like idiots, but we could give no better explanation other than the fact that there simply was no explanation - nobody could describe it. Cameramen were attempting to capture the mayhem, but no news clip, no picture, no words can describe the pure energy that lit up Washington DC and surrounded the White House that Sunday night.

My futile attempt to recapture the greatest moment so far in my life of "American history" will never do my experience justice. A quote to sum up this experience, one that tugged at the hearts of my roommates and mine, was a status update by a friend of a friend: "I was just able to call my mom and tell her the man responsible for the death of my brother is finally dead. <3 America - Joanne."

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Matthew May is a 19-year old student at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland.

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