Celebration at Ground Zero

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Osama Bin Laden announced dead, New York City lights up the night

New York, NEW YORK— Taxis and subway trains roared under and over ground, pouring New Yorkers by the thousands into Manhattan’s lower financial district and the site of the World Trade Centers, where, nearly ten years previous, Osama Bin Laden had orchestrated the most fatal attack on United States soil in history.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, two of four hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Centers. More than 2750 died in New York alone, out of a total 3,000 deaths that day.Now, on May 1st, Ground Zero swarmed with a sudden insurgence of joy as President Barack Obama delivered the news that, at last, Public Enemy Number 1 had been killed.
Cigarette smoke and the scent of beer mingled with raised fists and flags and voices in the early morning hours. The chanting was patriotic and unquenchable: “USA, USA!” was a constant, popular shout, and several renditions of “God Bless America” and the “Star-Spangled Banner” rippled through as the hours passed. People climbed on the shoulders of their friends to conduct the crowd; others climbed street signs and light poles to fly the American flag high in the night and lead the cheers.

Jackson Marks, a sophomore at NYU, left his East Village apartment at 12:30 a.m. to catch a train to Ground Zero. “My newsfeed was exploding,” he explained. “Everyone was talking about Times Square. When they started mentioning the World Trade site, I knew I had to be there.”

Though he was not personally afflicted in the attacks, he expressed his sentiments for the victims.

“It’s something that’s so close to every American’s heart,” he said.

Standing in the middle of a veritable mob on the corner of Church and Vesey streets, it was easy to believe so.

“Just being here.” Marks shook his head, glancing around at the surrounding crowd. “This is so surreal.”

Freshman Lauren Hall was one of over 30 King’s College students to rush to the spontaneous gathering at Ground Zero after the news was announced.

“I’m not one for crowds,” Hall said with a grimace, “but it’s a piece of history – I wanted to witness it and have a distinct memory of the night.”

University students mingled with New York natives in the carousing that began shortly after 11 p.m. and continued from the time the president made the official announcement at 11:35 p.m. until well into the early hours of dawn. Diane Massaroli came at 1 a.m. from Staten Island to join the crowd. She usually comes down to the World Trade sites only once a year, but said she felt compelled to come tonight after hearing the news.

Her husband Michael Massaroli was working at the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage on the 101st floor of the 1st tower on September 11, 2001. His remains were never found, but, Diane said, the news of Bin Laden’s death has brought a sort of respite to their family. “It is relieving,” she said. “I feel a closure that I never thought I would get. I am missing him all the time.”

She clutched a large memorial placard with pictures of Michael, and even in the wildness of the crowd, people paid their respect. Many asked to take pictures of her with her sign, and nearly everyone she passed gave her condolences, murmuring “God bless you.”

“It’s definitely a thing to celebrate,” she said.

Her friend Mario kept a comforting grip on her shoulder as they wove their way through the crowd, an American flag and a cigarette in his other hand. He described his first reaction to hearing the news as “disbelief.”

“Rumors started to surface early,” he said, “but we held off celebrating until hearing from the president. We knew when he was saying it, it was real.”

“We’re pretty elated,” he added, smiling. “Been waiting a long time for this.”

Mario recalls being at Ground Zero when the attacks happened, and listening to President Bush come September 20 to deliver his promise to avenge the fallen.

“Whether we bring our enemies to justice or justice to our enemies, justice will be done,” Bush said in the famous reactionary speech.

Mario recalled the decade-old words with a grim smile. “Now, it has.”

MiscSara Michael