Bin Laden's demise spurs 'round-town parade in Walla Walla

A noontime procession made a circuit of the city in an impromptu celebration of the terrorist's death.

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Flags line Main Street while the parade celebrating the announcement of the death of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden passes by Monday in downtown Walla Walla. May 2, 2011

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By sirens blare from police cars, downtown bystanders are drawn to the sidewalk to watch and wave at the parade marking the announced death of Osama Bin Laden. May 2, 2011

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Monday's parade marking Osama Bin Laden's end moves up Main Street. May 2, 2011

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AMVETS Post 1111 member Larry Cunnington holds fast a bundle of American flags used to decorate vehicles in Monday's parade marking the announcement of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden's death. May 2, 2011

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VFW Auxillary Post 992 member Martha Logan glances back through the back window of her bright yellow 1931 Model A Ford late Monday morning, May 2, 2011 in Walla Walla, Wash. as she looks for her husband, driver and 85-year-old WW II veteran Buzz Logan. The Logans were waiting for the start of Monday's parade through downtown Walla Walla to mark the announced death of terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. "I only take her (the 1931 Ford) out for the yearly Veterans Day Parade," commented Buzz Logan, also a VFW Post 992 member. He added, "And for special occasions - like this." May 2, 2011

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BYE BYE BIN LADEN...HELLO AMERICA---It was "Bye-bye Bin Laden...Hello America" Monday morning May 2, 2011 as Fern Kopf waves an American flag to bystanders on Main Street in Walla Walla, Wash. while her husband, Don Kopf drives their vintage, gray 1951 Studebaker in a parade celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. The Kopf's are members of VFW Post 992 in Walla Walla and participated in Monday's parade along with other local veterans, law enforcement officers, and fire and rescue personel. May 2, 2011 Jeff Horner Photo

WALLA WALLA -- A death doesn't normally spur a celebration, but some people felt differently Monday.

The demise of Osama bin Laden prompted an impromptu "victory loop" parade through downtown by veterans, residents and local officials. Veterans also placed U.S. flags throughout downtown to mark the blow against terrorism.

Among those taking part in the noon-hour parade was Danny Lackey, a recently retired Air National Guard member who had served in the United Arab Emirates.

"It was a great retirement gift," Lackey said about the news of bin Laden's death as he joined others gathering for the event at the city's main fire station on Poplar Street.

Larry Cunnington, a member of AMVETS Post 1111 who was distributing personal-sized U.S. flags to participants, said he felt bin Laden's death should have come "a long time ago" instead of nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But others made it clear that the Sunday raid by U.S. Navy SEALs was welcome no matter what the date.

The parade started at the main fire station and headed along Main Street to Isaacs Avenue, then along Wilbur Avenue, Alder Street and finally back along Poplar Street to its starting point.

Along the way, participants drew a mix of cheers, shouts of approval and waves.

But others were puzzled by the celebration and questioned whether it was appropriate.

"OH WOW! I had NO idea this was going on today! I don't think that this is something we should be celebrating in this way!" wrote one person on the Union-Bulletin's Facebook page. "I am glad he is dead and can't hurt anyone else. I'm sure terrorism isn't over, but killing him sent a loud message that we don't just let it go. Standing for what is right and never giving up is what America is about; not having a party and rejoicing our blood-stained hands! Justice is served and I hope OBL rots in hell. But, we shouldn't be acting like this!"

Another person wrote "I'm a little torn on this one. Celebrating someone's death? Hmm... Celebrating a possible turning point in the war on terror, but celebrating murder... I think we oughta be preparing for the retaliation that's probably already in the works from the rest of (al-Qaida)! He was one man, an evil one for sure, but there are hundreds out there ready to take his place."

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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