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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8318.