With one bold and swift act, America's pent up frustration was converted into joyous cries of U.S.A.! U.S.A! Citizens took to the streets, many enthusiastically waving an American flag, as they reveled and danced. From sea to shining sea Americans felt enormous pride for their country and their brave soldiers. This moment was a long time in coming.
Thousands poured onto Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate in front of the White House. They were a melting pot of citizens, young, old, and from all races, creeds and cultures. Two hundred miles away crowds gathered under the neon lights of Broadway to exalt a group of brave fire fighters sitting atop their truck parked nearby.
Crowds sang the "Star Spangled Banner" at Ground Zero, the very place where the Twin Towers stood ten years ago as an iconic symbol of freedom and democracy. When they were attacked all of America shuddered in pain. The death toll was even more staggering than the horrific images of the Towers' collapse and destruction.
The number of fire fighters and paramedics killed here was 343. Twenty-three New York City policemen died. Thirty-seven Port Authority officers were killed. More than 2,000 employees working for sixty companies perished at the site.
In about four months a 9/11 memorial will open to tourists at the partially completed World Trade Center site. It will include a fountain with an endless stream of water that will cascade into two massive voids where the Twin Towers once stood.
On Monday New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made remarks at the site and spoke for all New Yorkers. "Osama bin Laden is dead, and New York City's spirit has never been stronger." Bloomberg said. "The construction you see here is a rebuke to all of those who seek to destroy our freedoms and liberties. Nothing will ever return our loved ones - but we are rebuilding from the ashes and the tears a monument to the American spirit. New York's way is ever forward, ever skyward."
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, people came to visit a makeshift memorial marking the place where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed nearly ten years ago. Heroic passengers had stopped hijackers from crashing the plane into the U.S. Capitol. Today visitors brought flowers, flags and other patriotic symbols. Here too a permanent memorial is being erected in memory of the forty innocent victims. "It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones," said a family member of bin Laden's killing.
At the Pentagon, visitors quietly observed the site where fifty-nine airline passengers and 125 military personnel were killed when hijackers crashed an American Airlines jetliner into the building. Just a few paces away on another Pentagon corridor military planners had successfully planned and executed their revenge.
On September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda ruthlessly stuck a blow against America. In the decade that followed he indiscriminately killed thousands of Muslims and other peace loving people throughout the world. Sadly, his death will not bring an end to terrorism.
In announcing bin Laden's death, President Barack Obama said, "Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can't do." We are also reminded that for those who treasure and defend freedom and liberty, justice will prevail.