Ground Zero – The two bagpipers called for silence. Around them, the rowdy crowd lowered their voices and ceased their shouts. The two men began to play, and a few notes later, people began to sing. Standing between the spires of St. Paul’s Chapel and the cranes being used to construct the memorial on the World Trade Center site, a group belted out Amazing Grace.
It was nearing 3 a.m., but the area remained packed, crammed with a cheering, chanting, and singing crowd. Waving dozens of flags, those present alternately remembered those who had died on 9/11 and rejoiced that Osama bin Laden was dead.
Patriotism reigned: U.S.A., U.S.A.! was by far the most popular chant. At times, the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance. They sang God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner. Occasionally, the chants were angry: F*** Osama. There were defiant signs: “Obama 1, Osama 0” and “Ding Done Bin Laden’s Dead.” There were celebratory chants: 1, 2, 3, 4, we love the Marine Corps! and Yes, we can, yes, we can; yes, we did! There was the occasional political moment, such as a cheer for four more years for President Obama.
And, of course, there were New York moments. The crowd chanted NYPD, NYPD, sang along to Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s Empire State of Mind, and shouted NYC, NYC.
Diane Massaroli, whose husband Michael died at the World Trade Center on 9/11, told me that she was feeling “a mix of emotions.”
“Happy. Relieved. Peaceful,” she says. “But it’s definitely a thing to celebrate.”