It was exactly 10 years ago, May 1, 2011, that President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. This week's special edition of Out of the Attic looks back at the wild scene that played out that night in downtown Newark as University of Delaware students and Newark residents reacted to news.
Patriotic fervor swept through Newark and the University of Delaware campus late Sunday, May 1, 2011, after word spread that American forces in Pakistan had killed Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Hundreds of students, many clutching American flags and singing the national anthem, converged on The Green, forming a nearly four-hour, impromptu parade that momentarily shut down Main Street, snaked through all parts of campus and culminated with dozens of revelers jumping into the Magnolia Circle fountain well past 2 a.m.
“It’s amazing,” senior Kate Welsh said while marching down Academy Street. “I’m so glad I could be a part of it.”
Welsh and her roommates were in their apartment watching President Barack Obama make the surprise announcement on television when they heard chants of “USA, USA” coming from outside.
“We said, ‘What are we doing in here?’ and got on our red, white and blue,” Welsh said.
Media organizations first began reporting bin Laden’s death shortly after 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Shortly after, Obama addressed the nation in a rare late-night speech from the East Room of the White House.
“Justice has been done,” said Obama, who noted the terrorist leader was killed in a firefight with U.S. troops.
Moments after the president concluded his remarks, students began flocking to The Green. Others gathered at Main Street bars to toast the news.
Once the crowd grew, the marchers did several laps around The Green and Main Street, traveled to Laird Campus and went past university President Patrick Harker’s house before ending up at the fountain. Along the way, the students stopped at least three times — on the steps of Memorial Hall and Old College Hall and at the intersection of Main and Academy Streets — to sing patriotic songs and yell chants of “USA, USA,” “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye,” and “F— Osama.”
Many students wore red, white and blue clothing or carried flags. Others set off fireworks.
Dozens of officers from Newark, university and state police departments were called in to manage the crowd, but the officers kept their distance and allowed the demonstrations to continue.
For the students, most of whom were in middle school when the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93 killed nearly 3,000 Americans, the death of Bin Laden provided some sense of relief. Many of the students grew up in New York and New Jersey.
“I think it's a really good success in the fight against terrorism, but Obama even said in his speech, it's kind of like we won the battle, but we haven't won the war yet,” said senior Rebecca Kasman, who is from Long Island. “It is a good cornerstone to build towards a goal, but there are still terrorists out there."
At Grotto Pizza, senior Alex Ramondini and three of his friends displayed a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag while sipping beers.
“It’s a good day in American history,” Raymondini said.
Adapted from an article written by Josh Shannon – then a UD senior and now editor of the Newark Post – and originally published in The Review.