, , , , ,

Disbelief. It took me a few minutes to process the seconds-long announcement. It was short enough to fit in a tweet. But it was mighty. President Mubarak has stepped down.

I broke into tears when it downed on me. Protests worked. Peaceful street action worked. Egypt is free, for the first time in my life.

I was born in 1982, a year after Mubarak assumed power. For 28 years, he was the only president I’d lived under.

On Feb. 11, 2011, this changed.

It was a victory for martyrs and for protesters whose patriotism was questioned. When it was time to celebrate, the entirety of Egypt took to the streets.

I could hear the sounds of car horns, ululations, fireworks and cheers as I edited the monumental story for my newspaper. Egyptians were celebrating their rebirth.

Tears were abundant. When an Armed Forces spokesperson acknowledged the martyrs with a military salute, everyone in the room, including me, cried. It was the first official acknowledgment of their sacrifice.  They’ll be in our hearts, as we celebrate tonight and when we start rebuilding tomorrow. Their blood didn’t go in vain.

This ran in Italian in the Corriere Della Sera.