Grand Junction shows pride in victory against terrorism
The killing of Osama bin Laden, reported to the nation on Sunday night by President Barack Obama, set off a series of impromptu celebrations from New York and Washington, D.C., to the campus of Mesa State College and up Plateau Creek to tiny Collbran.
About 100 people gathered Monday evening at Teller Arms shopping center, 2401 North Ave., to wave flags and cheer the event and to honor the armed services.
“I feel so proud to be an American,” 16-year-old Harlen Jones said at the rally, which he attended with his mother, Eva Silva-Jones, who wore a red-white-and-blue sweater to the event. “I’m proud of my government for doing this.”
The death of the mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reverberated strongly among other young people who chanted “USA” and sang a capella renditions of the national anthem in rallies broadcast around the country, as well as at Mesa State College.
Adrienne Barlow, 20, was watching television Sunday night when she heard sounds loud enough that she thought they were coming from the TV.
A peek into the courtyard, though, revealed hundreds of college students marching through the quad area on the west side of the campus.
“They were chanting, “USA! USA! and waving flags,” Barlow said.
The crowd might have seemed to grow out of nowhere, but in fact, Barlow said, it sprang fully formed from social media.
“I saw it on Facebook and it exploded on Twitter,” and then took shape in the campus quad, Barlow said.
There’s no mystery about why the killing of a terrorist halfway around the world captured the imagination of young people still in college, said one student.
“Our whole adult life has been shaped by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and this name, Osama bin Laden,” said Nick Lopez, president of the Mesa State College Associated Student Government. “Some of us never thought we’d see the day that he was finally taken down.”
Up on Grand Mesa, bin Laden’s demise gave Gerald Boren an idea for the 200-square-foot American flag he happened to find just a few hours before the news broke about the al-Qaida chief’s death.
Boren bought the flag just under a decade ago to fly at his home near Collbran soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, but stored it away when it became tattered.
Boren hoisted the flag again using a pair of bucket trucks at the entrance to the American Servicewomen’s Memorial in Collbran.
“There’s a lot of women who have died in the process of containing Osama bin Laden and I wanted to see them recognized” for those contributions, Boren said.
Facebook played a role, as well, in the organizing of the Teller Arms rally on Monday, said Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland, who posted the idea.
Many gathered in the same lot a decade ago and waved flags after the bin-Laden-inspired attacks, Rowland said.
Don Patton, a nearby resident, thanked participants for showing up to wave the flag and cheer.
“This is not a political thing,” Patton said, pointedly noting the presence of the GJResult.com tea party contingent, which waved Gadsden flags and American flags.
President Barack Obama deserved credit for the demise of bin Laden, said GJResult spokesman Tim Fenwick.
“He stayed the course” and remained in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President George W. Bush, though, also deserved credit for building the apparatus that eventually caught bin Laden, Fenwick said.
“In the 1770s there was a shot heard ‘round the world,” Fenwick said. “There’s been another one. I can hear the Liberty Bell ringing now.”
Paul Been took the flagpole he usually uses to display the red, white and blue from his garage and carried both Monday to the rally.
Been hoisted the flag and pole high as he stood in the center of a group that recited the Pledge of Allegiance, then cheered “USA! USA!” as part of the rally in the Teller Arms shopping center parking lot.
Been and his wife, Ann, were there more to remember the members of the armed services, not the least of them being their son, Col. David Been, who commands Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.
“This is the first step on the way to this becoming a more safe country,” Ann Been said.