Cries of Unity

James Sasso

When I got the notification on my iPhone that President Obama would be making a special announcement to the nation concerning national security on Sunday night, I immediately imagined the worst case scenario. Why else would a President invade Sunday night television and keep the country up late on a work night? But then I checked the New York Times and I almost fell out of my chair. I could not believe it. It was too much to be true.

We got him!

Osama Bin Laden, the man that my generation ubiquitously associated with all of the murderous and extremist reasons for America’s involvement in two bloody wars, had finally been brought down. I ran to the nearest television where my friends and I sat around the TV, itching for President Obama to address us. Once again we were his captive audience.

In the meantime we blasted patriotic country songs (something to which I am not normally inclined to do). We shouted patriotic slogans and once again felt the magic of America. We, college students nearing finals, put down our work, put down our computers and looked at the television where the President’s empty podium stood, teasing our intrigue. We cheered and we embraced, but we watched endlessly. For some reason we felt we needed President Obama’s confirmation. We needed to hear the story from his lips.

And his marvelous speech sealed the truth. He accurately explained what we were feeling; the emotional victory for which we had been looking since September 11. He did not waiver as he recounted the horrible tragedy forced upon our nation at the hands of this deranged murderer. He described with forceful leadership how his administration and the army managed to pull off this spectacular feat. But most of all, President Obama portrayed to us precisely what this assassination meant; a moral victory. Yes, a deep sense of revenge had been satisfied with this extraordinary deed, but it did not mean the end of our country’s struggle against those who wish to disturb the free workings of the world. And, most of all, the President used this event, one which he knew would bring together Americans in jubilation, to call for something we need more now than ever before; unity.

President Obama hit the nail on the head with his speech

While I do not expect this success to suddenly inspire the leaders of America to end their partisan ways, I find that it might have a deeper affect on the psyche of Generation Y.We, for whom September 11 has been our most memorable world moment, felt a unbridled sense of joy upon hearing of Osama Bin Laden’s death. College students ran through the streets, waiving flags, singing, cheering, hugging. For the first time in my lifetime, we were able to happily announce ourselves Americans as a whole people. Few of us disagreed about the emotional importance of experiencing America’s first real military “victory” in our lifetime. In fact, this was the first universally accepted governmental action that we have experienced together as politically aware individuals which enabled us to rise in one voice and cheer (for many of us the decision to go to war with Afghanistan happened before we had entered college).

People celebrate Osama Bin Laden's death

And the beauty of the experience was in the unity expressed amongst this generation. Facebook and Twitter flooded with pro-American posts, hilarious anti-Osama comments and all sorts of videos proclaiming a love for America that often hid behind disappointment with either the policies of our leaders or their ineffectiveness at enacting any valuable legislation. Indeed, many of us felt little reason to display a love for a country whose government gave us little reason to love it. But finally, there was an unadulterated positive to come out of Washington. We finally succeeded at something without having to deal with partisan squabbling. Finally there was an event that superseded politics; something around which we could wrap ourselves in a cloak of American joy. It felt enthralling to be able to let loose years of pent up love for this country that only found outlets at the occasional parade or fireworks display. And it felt especially good to express my love for the country not after an election so that I could enjoy the moment with people of all political stripes.

Will it last? Probably not...

No, Osama’s assassination does not solve our problems. Nor does it not make up for the misery and sorrow caused by September 11. Nothing can ease that pain. I understand that for some, all of this joy after the death of one man brings nothing except disgust, but I will not deny how wonderful this emotional victory felt for most of Generation Y. These moments of unified joy are few and fare between, but I can only hope that our generation takes something from this; some sort of belief in the power of our country lies in its ability to have its citizens remain together. Our country is great because we are all Americans and we all want this country to succeed. There is not one right ideology and one wrong one. Life is not that simple. It is not black and white, or red and blue, but rather an amalgamation of countless different ideas and beliefs which all wish to improve this country. If we can learn one thing from the show of unity after the death of Osama, I hope that we take the reminder that we are all Americans and we all love this country (even those like me who like to criticize its faults). If this is what a once in a lifetime event feels like, then I am happy to have lived through it.