WKU students celebrate ‘victory’ for US after bin Laden’s death

A mix of Sigma Alpha Epsilons and Sigma Chis celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden with fireworks, music and cheering Sunday night off 14th Street.

Cole Claybourn

When President Barack Obama announced Sunday that U.S. forces in Pakistan had killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks that claimed 3,000 lives, excitement and patriotism spread over social media networks.

Those same sentiments were felt on WKU’s campus, where scores of students chanted “USA! USA!” from their dorm windows while others shouted “America!” in response.

Owensboro freshman Trip Carpenter and Mt. Washington freshman Cody Hutchins ran from Zacharias Hall up the Hill, then down past Hilligan’s waving an American flag — an act that was greeted with cheers from those they passed along the way.

“There’s so much patriotism swelling in my heart right now,” Carpenter said. “This is a symbolic step toward a more peaceful world. USA will rise above.”

Hutchins said that like many Americans, he didn’t know what to expect when the White House announced an impromptu address Sunday. But he said when the announcement was made, he and Carpenter couldn’t help but celebrate.

“We just felt it. That universal spirit — just that pride in America,” he said. “This could possibly mean the war is over.”

At the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, members of the fraternity joined members of Sigma Chi in shooting off fireworks and singing patriotic songs to celebrate what Obama called the “most significant achievement to date in our nation’s efforts to defeat al-Qaeda.”

The fight against terrorism didn’t come without affecting WKU directly.

First Lt. Eric D. Yates, a 2008 graduate, was killed by a roadside bomb last September in Afghanistan.

Louisville senior and SAE member Ben Lineweaver said one of his high school friends lost his father in the 9/11 attacks.

He said there are plenty of families such as his friend’s and Yates’ with similar stories, and that the news of bin Laden’s death will provide them with closure.

Owensboro senior and SAE president Steven Edds recounted seeing footage of people burning and stomping on the American flag in celebration after 9/11.

He said the news of bin Laden’s death provides some peace of mind to Americans.

Lineweaver added that while it may seem inhumane to celebrate the death of a fellow human, that’s not why he, and those with him, were celebrating.

“I think we’re celebrating this more as a victory for the country,” he said. “You think about how many lives he’s destroyed and how much harm he’s caused us and how much pain he’s caused all those families.

“It’s not just a victory for America, but it’s a victory for every other country in the world that has been affected by (bin Laden’s) terrorism.”

Celebrations at the SAE house continued throughout the night, and many others passed by the house on 14th Street to join in on the celebration.

“This just shows everybody that we’re not over there for nothing,” Lineweaver said. “We accomplished what we set out to accomplish. That’s more important than anything.”