The video above is combined video footage and photos from the evening of May 1, 2011, outside the White House north gate. Over the course of the day, there has been an outpouring of criticism for the celebrations that took place around the country, particularly in front of the White House and at Ground Zero. A quote from MLK has become one of the most prolific facebook status messages I’ve ever seen (UPDATE: the quote may be inaccurate):
“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
And while I have the utmost respect and reverence for the different ways people have responded to the news of Bin Laden’s capture and death, I will say that having been at the celebrations taking place outside the White House, I stand by my sentiments that it was an inspiring moment to witness and I feel no regrets for joining the hundreds, if not thousands, of revelers cheering outside the north gate.
The hours I spent on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and in Lafayette Park were filled with cheers, patriotic exclamations, spontaneous bursts of God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner. The people there were celebrating the triumph of ten years of American intelligence, and while some have criticized the reason why we “came together,” I sincerely believe we needed an occasion to unite us and bring us above the partisan politics that seem to have become business as usual.
A full transcript of Obama’s remarks are available here.