Alumni join celebrations in New York, Washington

Molly Keene

Nate Erez, Community Editor

Thousands of college students celebrated in the streets surrounding the White House and Ground Zero after President Obama announced on May 1 that the United States military had found and killed Osama Bin Laden.

“It’s very exciting,” alumna Molly Keene ’06 told The Boiling Point via text message from the World Trade Center site in New York City, where she had gone with fellow students from NYU. “People are swinging from lampposts, crowd surfing, singing ‘God Bless America,’ and chanting ‘USA, USA.’”

Molly sent photos of the crowd, including people hanging from street signs and one of a hand-drawn poster that said “We cheer for peace, not death.” The World Trade Center was destroyed when planes were flown into its towers on Sept. 11, 2001, in attacks which left more than 3,000 people dead, most in New York City.

Bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind, was killed in a raid by U.S. Navy Seals at the compound where he lived in Abbottobad, Pakistan.  President Obama made the announcement at around 10 p.m. East Coast time, and spontaneous celebrations erupted in New York City and Washington, D.C., where another of the commandeered jets had crashed into the Pentagoni in 2001.

Sofi Porter-Zasada, a freshman at Columbia University, who attended Shalhevet for 9th and 10th grades, had taken a taxi to Ground Zero and had mixed feelings about the scene.

“Everything was powerful and genuine…and yet somehow very childish,” Sofi said. “We were all trying to get somewhere, to see something, but there was nothing there to see. It felt like a bunch of confused kids who wanted to get excited and didn’t quite know what they were there for.”

According to Sofi, three students, one Brazilian, one Japanese and one Hispanic, were talking about how much they love and respect America.The next moment, they were thinking up crude chants to get the crowd riled up.

“It was beautiful at times, singing the national anthem in solidarity,” Sofi said. “[But] sometimes we were yelling really inappropriate things.”

Regardless of the contradictions, Sofi said she had been excited to be there.

“Being from L.A, I felt very distanced from 9/11 and from the whole issue, the whole war,” she said. “I feel when… this happened while I was in New York, it was a cool place to be.”

Huge crowds could be seen via TV outside the White House in Washington, D.C., and CNN reported that among them were many students from George Washington University, Georgetown University, and American University, all located in Washington.

Alumna Penina Smith ’09 joined the crowds outside the White House. Penina, a student at George Washington University, told The Boiling Point that it was a welcome distraction from studying for finals.

“The effort was completely spontaneous,” Penina said. “We live four blocks away from the White House so we figured it’s what we should do.”

Penina described the scene there as “crazy” and said that the crowd “felt like a mosh pit.”

“Lots of people jumping and yelling, wearing ridiculous outfits,” Penina said.


Outside News Editor Leila Miller contributed to this story.