Skip to main content

We celebrated 'the death of my generation's face of terror'

By Noah Gray, Special to CNN
Click to play
Students celebrate bin Laden's death
  • For college student Noah Gray, it started out as a mundane Sunday night until the big news
  • Gray: Students headed to White House to celebrate death of "generation's face of terror"
  • "The generation that grew up in fear of terror ... all had something to say," Gray says
  • Scene looked more like a pep rally or frat party than anything political, he says

Editor's note: Noah Gray is a freshman at American University and the founder of Next Generation Network News. His website is

(CNN) -- Like many other college students at 10:15 on a Sunday night, I was cramming for my Monday morning exam as diligently as I could.

Just a few minutes later, however, I heard that there was to be breaking news at the White House. Like any aspiring journalist, I knew that I had to grab my camera and make my way into the mix in front of the White House.

I wasn't the only one. It seemed like the entirety of the American University student body was on the way to Pennsylvania Avenue, and with good reason.

While I was in my friend's rented car jetting toward the South Lawn, President Barack Obama was announcing the death of Osama bin Laden at America's hands. We passed dozens of American University students in cars, cabs, on bikes and on foot all making their way to celebrate the death of my generation's face of terror.

Big crowds cheer at White House
Reactions to bin Laden's death
Chants of 'USA!' at Mets-Phillies game
iReport: America united

It seemed as though my phone was vibrating every five seconds or so. Indeed, Facebook and Twitter kept me abreast, with thousands of status updates from my generation about the latest breaking news. They were patriotic. They were celebratory. Some were witty. Some were terse. In short, the generation that grew up in fear of terror because of bin Laden all had something to say.

"This is unreal," my friend tweeted. "Being from Manhattan, Osama was the first person I was ever taught to hate. I waited 10 years, but now it's done. Unreal."

Death of bin Laden: Healing begins

We rolled up to the White House with the window down. We could hear roars from even two blocks away. Nobody knew where to park, so we parked on the side of the street and ran through Lafayette Park.

It was unbelievable. The scene looked more like a pep rally or frat party than anything political.

I tried to get reaction from all the students there, and it was incredibly challenging to talk over the roar of the crowd.

Opinion: Savor this moment in the name of the 3,000

An overall jubilant crowd cared more about the death of someone who was the face of terror for our generation rather than any final exams the next day.

As an American, I will never forget the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001. As a student in Washington, I will never forget the events that occurred outside the White House on Sunday night.

Featured Deal |