Their view: Congressman witness to White House celebration

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., joined the celebration at the White House on Sunday night, and composed the following reflection:

Just arriving in D.C. from New Mexico at about 10:30 p.m., I almost missed the announcement that bin Laden was dead. My Blackberry was buzzing with the news of the impending presidential message.

I was frustrated, in the airport, waiting for my bag. I ran to the car, turned on the radio; the president had not yet spoken. The announcer said a small group was gathering at the White House chanting “USA.”

I hurried there, arriving just as the president was speaking. One of the first to arrive, I parked half a block from the White House.

The pulsing mass numbered about 500 people when I arrived. People chanting “USA, USA.”

Flags waving everywhere…the crowd swelled to thousands. Hugging, shaking hands. Cheers.

The average age is 26 or so. The chants are fresh and edgy — the F-bomb abounds. Handmade signs announce the news with unmistakable enthusiasm: “Sama bin gotten,” “Justice has been done” and “F yea we got him.”

Jubilation. Freedom. Gratitude. The day of reckoning for our public enemy number one has arrived.

Suddenly the crowd bursts into the National Anthem.

A TV crew had arrived and turned on the camera to capture the emotions of the night. I snapped a picture of a young man chugging a fifth of Jim Beam.

A Capitol Hill staffer recognizes me as a congressman. Word spreads quickly that someone from congress is there. Spontaneous requests to make pictures with me.

One of the biggest hits in the crowd is Santa Claus with Blues Brothers shades. He recognizes the DFC pin on my blazer and pauses to say thanks for my service.

The crowd is filled with vets. They are as young as the crowd, chests bursting with pride that they had done their part. One vet’s T-shirt reads: “It is God’s job to judge Osama Bin Laden, It is the military’s job to arrange the meeting.”

My father’s generation experienced VE Day with the wild, celebrating mob in New York. But my generation drifted quietly into town from Vietnam.

Our nation was embarrassed by the war and its soldiers.

Sunday night, though, our nation was filled with renewed pride.