After hearing news of Osama bin Laden’s death, students on campus took to the streets donned in red, white and blue and waving American flags while yelling out in celebration last night.
The death of the leader of the Sept. 11 attacks was cause to rejoice for many University students, who believe bin Laden’s passing will serve as a way to unite the United States and move the nation closer to ending the war on terrorism. President Barack Obama announced in a televised address last night that bin Laden was killed in Pakistan early Monday by American troops.
Business and LSA senior Steve Benavides said he was watching baseball with his roommates when they heard the news. The group immediately started playing the national anthem on their computers, while they heard fireworks exploding in the distance.
Benavides said bin Laden’s death provides a sense of closure for Americans and serves as a way to unite the American people amid a tense political climate.
“This is a highly politicized time whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, but this one event is something that 300 million Americans can get behind, 300 million Americans can take solace in and 300 million Americans can rejoice over,” Benavides said.
He added that bin Laden’s death is a “highly symbolic event” not only for Americans and those directly impacted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but also for people in other parts of the world who have been affected by the reign of terror established under al-Qaida.
“It’s not just Americans celebrating tonight, it’s a worldwide thing,” Benavides said. “He’s just been a threat to mankind, to Christianity, Judaism, Muslim and other religions as a whole.”
Will McDowell, a Business student who graduated in Saturday’s Spring Commencement ceremony, said he doesn’t believe bin Laden’s death will ultimately solve the problems associated with the war on terrorism, but will hopefully be a sign of good things to come for the nation.
“Everybody’s celebrating like it’s the end, but most of us know it’s not the end,” McDowell said. “But hopefully it’s the beginning of the end of an era.”
LSA senior Simin Manole and Public Policy senior Matthew Mejia stood on the corner of Church Street and South University Avenue outside of Good Time Charley’s Bar and Grill around 12:30 a.m. Monday waving a flag in the air and chanting.
Mejia said the announcement of bin Laden’s death will serve as a catalyst for a positive advancement in American morale and will become an event that transcends the increasing disparities in partisan sentiment.
“I think it’s a big day,” Mejia said. “Obviously things aren’t over, but it’s important to take this day and celebrate this accomplishment. It’s good for morale — it’s an American thing, it’s not Democrat or Republican, so that’s a nice refresher right now.
He added: “I’m proud to be an American today, and it’s not always easy to say that, but today it is.”
As the pair celebrated, a student on the street opened a bottle of champagne and sprayed it in the air while cars drove past with passengers chanting “USA” and blasting songs like “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. Other confused passersby questioned the duo about the flurry of activity.
Christopher Zukowski, an employee of Ashley’s Restaurant on State Street, said he turned all the televisions to the president’s news conference and raised the volume after a customer asked to hear the news.
“Once people realized what was happening, everyone got quiet and listened,” he said.
Zukowski, an Ann Arbor resident, said the only time a moment like this happened in the past three years was the night Obama was elected in 2008.
Though Ashley’s closes at midnight, the bar extended its closing time by a half hour since the majority of patrons were still in the bar.
LSA senior Anni Sajid was meeting with friends in Jimmy John’s on State Street around 12:30 a.m. She said she first found out about bin Laden’s death from her sister who saw it as a BBM status.
Sajid, who is of Pakistani descent, said she is glad Obama emphasized in his speech that the attack was not meant to target Muslims, but rather a terrorist who jeopardized the lives of innocent civilians.
— Editor in Chief Stephanie Steinberg contributed to this report.