Editor's note: This is the latest in a from our San Clemente reporter Jamal Al-Sarraf, who has family in Egypt.
Celebrations exploded across Egypt as President Hosni Mubarak finally resigned from office Friday.
Every city, from Cairo in the west to Sharm El-Sheikh perched on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula in the east, celebrated his resignation.
"I'm proud to say that I am an Egyptian today," said Mohammed Samra, a man from El-Mansoura featured throughout . "We have worked hard and pushed forth in the streets to make sure he would step down. Today we finally got what we wanted. Now Egypt can finally move forth, and we will become what we've always wanted: to be an example to the Arab world."
The overthrow of Mubarak is one of the first relatively peaceful coups in a Middle Eastern country, though several hundred people have lost their lives in the chaos. With horns honking from across the cities and people dancing in the streets, the nation is in utter euphoria.
"I cried tears of happiness when I found out that Mubarak finally stepped down," said Marianne Durrell, . "It's like a new beginning for the Egyptian people. No longer will they have to fear for their families' lives for what they say. They can finally enjoy what we take for granted back home in America. I'm proud to have seen such a peaceful revolution take place in front of my eyes. It was only yesterday that I thought the country would erupt into civil war, but that changed today, and I feel blessed."
Many people throughout Egypt were worried about civil war after Mubarak's speech Thursday that failed to answer whether he would step down. Some were ready for civil war.
"I really thought that the country could erupt into civil war," said Durrell. "I was ready for the worst, and memories of the first Gulf War came back to me."
A childhood friend of mine, Mohammed Dessouki, with whom I went to school in Kuwait during my 15 years there, has protested in his hometown of Alexandria and posted commentary on Facebook about the embattled president.
"We just got punk'd by Mubarak [after the speeches yesterday]," he said. "Somebody call in Ashton Kutcher!"
As I continued to search my Facebook wall to see what my childhood friends had been saying, I came across Rami Othman. His post was straight to the point:
"Egypt screams: The people win!"
An American friend of mine with whom I attended high school in Des Moines, IA, had a great interested in Arabic. He lived in Cairo and learned the language firsthand, studying at the American University in Cairo.
"What a fantastic day," he said. "Mubrook Masr," which means "congratulations, Egypt" in Arabic.
Abo Bakr El Demery, my mother's landlord, neighbor and friend, also had a few words to say:
"[This is] a new, white page for Egypt," he said. "It's a beginning of a new era for us all."
Jubilation aside, it was only . I remember talking to Samra on the phone when he was in El-Mansoura as the protests began.
At first he was a little timid about going out in the streets—he wanted to stay in to protect his family. But I gave him a bit of American advice, telling him: "This is your opportunity in history. This is how America was born. We overthrew a tyrant that we were tired of and fought for the freedoms we have today. Don't lose this chance. Get on those streets and fight alongside your people."
And so he did, every day until Mubarak stepped down.
In a famous scene, one of our Founding Fathers, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin answered.
Let's hope that Egypt can keep theirs. Congratulations to all Egyptians who stood their ground in the face of a tyrant. Your freedom is well deserved.