Thingish Things

The Next “Greatest Generation”

Written By: Liz Feld - May• 02•11

Spontaneous Celebration in Boston Sunday Night

(This from former Larchmont, NY mayor Liz Feld who is doing a temporary family stint in Boston.)

Last night and through the early hours of this morning, thousands of college students paraded through the streets of Boston, escorted by police cars. They chanted, sang, cheered and waved American flags. They weren’t celebrating a World Series victory, protesting greenhouse gas emissions, or marching for collective bargaining rights.  These young men and women joined in the most spontaneous outpouring of patriotism and pride in decades after hearing their President announce that the face of the War on Terror – the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — had been wiped off the earth.

Celebrations like this one broke out in the stands of a late night Phillies-Mets game, in front of the White House, in Times Square, and on college campuses across the United States. But what is most touching and remarkable is the age of those who may be celebrating the most.  This generation of students has never known a world without terrorism. They have grown up with orange, yellow and red terror alerts, airport security pat downs, nightly newscasts with video and reports of the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.  In towns and villages across the country, a generation of kids has grown up with 9/11 as the day they lost a parent, neighbor, friend or relative.  Earlier Bin Laden directed terrorist attacks – the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, and the USS Cole in October 2000 — happened far away, not in their backyards.  But on 9/11, these kids saw their parents and neighbors go off to work one morning and never return, and they have lived with the images of the falling of the twin towers night after night ever since.

This generation’s most formative years have been spent fighting two wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan — confused that while U.S. soldiers continue to make the ultimate sacrifice, we still live in a country vulnerable to terrorists.  For nearly a decade, U.S. military and intelligence agencies have prevented another attack on U.S. soil but that couldn’t change the reality that this generation largely has been defined by the events of 9/11.

The success of the CIA-led operation in Pakistan yesterday  — catching “the bad guy” and getting justice for the United States and the countless victims of his terrorist reign – can begin to redefine that reality. The jubilation, relief, and pride we witnessed last night proved that.   What we saw in the celebrations was the faith and conviction that standing up for ourselves, and fighting to protect our freedom, is far more powerful than any fear or threat of evil.  So many of the brave men and women fighting for us overseas are no older than the students cheering for them right now.  World War II gave us “The Greatest Generation.”  Osama Bin Laden found out last night that this generation has a resolve second to none.


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