I will never forget last night. The news crackled across Facebook and Twitter like lightning, as an exponentially larger web of people pulsed with the rumor that Osama bin Laden, the face of evil in our country, had been killed. As news outlets began to confirm reports, I broke loose: Blasting cheesy patriotic music on my computer I executed some wildly unpolished karate chops and bellowed at the top of my lungs
Then the president came on the television and laid it all out. As he spoke, I realized I was living a truly consequential moment in human history. My eyes welled with tears as he summoned the memory of the victims of Sept. 11, and my heart filled with pride as he asserted that nobody, nowhere, attacks the United States and gets away with it.
My friends and I didn’t think much as we ran down to the White House after midnight. I grabbed a big American flag off of my wall and made as many garbled phone calls as I could, imploring people to join me at the White House. There, it was beautiful pandemonium. Singing, shouting, hugging, crying, flag-waving, cameras, posters — there was no time to process. In a fit of joy, I hoisted my friend Allison Wagner (SFS ’11) onto my shoulders, not expecting that image of us celebrating to immediately be splashed across the home page of the The New York Times website.
The scene at the White House was perhaps the most genuine display of unbridled human ebullience imaginable. Where some might see a jingoistic mob baying for blood, I saw something far more precious and meaningful. Women in hijabs and men in turbans tearfully embraced jackanapes like me, who had shed my upper clothing for an American flag-turned-cape. All ages, colors and faiths were there, and the words “God Bless America” sung in concert by thousands never felt more spectacular. I was damn proud to be an American.
Naturally, there are some larger considerations to take into account. As President Obama cautioned us, the risk for a retaliatory attack is especially heightened. While we must not let raw ebullience cloud the stark reality of our dangerous world, nor must we be cowed from rejoicing in the fact that justice has flowed like a mighty river. I recognize that the road ahead is fraught with perils, but I will never apologize for my jubilation last night. I celebrated for more than the death of evil incarnate, but for so many more: Our heroic men and women in uniform, our phenomenal intelligence services, our commander in chief, and the memory of a clear September morning shattered by the forces of hate and devastation.
Looming over this development is the ugly specter of politics. If you’ve ever read one of my columns in this publication, you know I spare nothing in criticizing President Obama. I am Republican. But I am an American first. President Obama, a grateful nation owes you, and I am personally filled with pride over your leadership.
President Obama accomplished one of the greatest challenges of American military history, and in so doing brought hope and confidence to a war-weary nation. Though nothing is pre-ordained, it is clear that the president’s chances of reelection just massively ballooned. I would be shocked if on-the-fence GOP contenders threw their hat in the ring after this, and I’m willing to bet that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are holding their heads in their hands. Today, though, my love of a grand country trumps my allegiance to the Grand Old Party. Who cares what the political fallout is in the end? Let both sides of the aisle continue to work for a world that is safe and free.
There was no mountain too high, no cave too dark, for a monster like Osama bin Laden to escape the fist of justice. We have won the battle; now let us win the war. May God forever bless the exceptional and extraordinary United States of America.
Sam Dulik is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. His column Quorum Call appears every other Friday in The Hoya.