By: Adriana Mariella, David Cote, Elise Taylor, & Brennan Carley
On Sept. 17, 2001, U.S. former president George W. Bush made a bold statement: “I want justice. There’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.'” Last night, nearly 10 years later, President Barack Obama finally announced the achievement of that justice.
In a momentous and historic raid on an al-Qaida encampment in Abbottabad, Pakistan, U.S. military forces have killed Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11 and one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals.
In what the President called a “courageous” raid, U.S. military forces engaged al-Qaida soldiers, killing bin Laden and detaining numerous al-Qaida associates. There were no American casualties.
Bin Laden gained international notoriety as the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., a day that has been denoted by many as the most devastating in American history. Throughout the subsequent years, bin Laden has used his vast personal fortune to finance al-Qaida operations on various continents. Though the CIA has had numerous leads since 2001, none have resulted in bin Laden’s capture or death. That is, until yesterday.
The celebrations that broke out across the nation—outside the White House, in Times Square, at Ground Zero—carried over to Boston College.
Many people claim to have started the celebratory riot that erupted throughout campus last night, but no matter the originator, hundreds of students participated in a University-wide display of patriotism.
A group began to collect in the Mods, with chants of “U!S!A!” and rounds of “God Bless America,” while students from surrounding dorms began to accumulate, with BCPD officers standing by. Students with flags and makeshift signs stood on the picnic tables and someone popped a bottle of champagne. With a cry of, “This way!” the throng of students flooded the pathways around Vanderslice Hall, joining a fast-moving horde of chanting students who had already begun to run. They passed Main Gate and continued down Campanella, where shirtless partakers directed the crowd up the Million Dollar Staircase to O’Neill Plaza.
While running laps around Lower Campus, Eddie Parisi, CSOM ’14, affirmed the feeling of American pride that pervaded campus. “I’m celebrating America’s great victory,” he said. “America can’t be stopped.”
Chuck Cahalane, A&S ’11, stood at the Higgins landing of the Million Dollar Staircase, cheering on the chaos, shouting “U!S!A!” and holding a flag.
“Osama’s dead. No Rules! Go America!” he said.
After briefly congregating in O’Neill Plaza, the students stormed Bapst Library, taking up cries of advancement. They climbed onto the tables, including those of students already studying, dancing and waving their flags, some with beer in hand.
After rousing and hearty renditions of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “God Bless America,” the BCPD ushered students out of the library.
The crowd swarmed the fountain in front of Gasson Hall, while the self-appointed rally leaders jumped into the water, leading the group in chants. A nearly nude Nico Ricciardi, A&S ’14, climbed to the top of the centerpiece of the fountain and jumped into it, as the crowd roared in encouragement.
When asked why he chose to conquer the fountain, Ricciardi said, “Because it’s patriotism and it’s awesome.”
All of a sudden, the crowd began to chant the word “O’Neill” while others clapped their hands in sync.
The mass quickly flooded O’Neill Plaza once again, this time heading straight for the glass doors of the library itself.
A girl was seen flashing her breasts from the fifth floor window of the library, prompting a series of cheers from the onlookers below.
While the mob pounded on the doors, students broke into the emergency exit of the Course Reserves Room as BCPD looked on. Shell-shocked students inside the library opened the main doors as if they were flood-gates, which elicited yet another round of cheers.
The leaders situated themselves on the circulation desk, and after more cheers, the crowd dispersed, some throwing beer cans onto the ground as they spilled out into O’Neill Plaza and then into the Quad. Students flooded out of the doors again, capturing the life-sized cardboard cut-out of the Eagle’s Nest Piano Guy, Dennis Carr, A&S’ 11, and carrying it out into the Plaza. A BCPD officer filmed the action on a small camcorder.
Although the atmosphere was largely rowdy and jubilant, Eddie Timmerman, A&S ’13, recognized a deeper significance amidst the rioting.
“I’m so proud of the men and women in the Middle East serving our country,” he said. “I would shake every single one of their hands if I could. Thank you to everyone who sacrificed for our great, great nation.”
While in the Quad, Gio Trilleras, CSON ’12, echoed similar sentiments while carrying his friend on his shoulders.
“We’ve had three years of college here,” he said. “We saw him rise in our freshman year, and fall in our junior year. Go America.”
Raucous celebrations continued into the early hours of the morning, extending beyond the time when this article went to print.
In what will surely prove to be a vindicating moment in the ongoing War on Terror as well as an imprint on the collective memories of BC students, the president stressed that the death of “al-Qaida’s leader and symbol,” must not be the end of our struggle.
“The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida,” he said. “But his death does not mark the end of our effort. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.”