May 022011
Authors: Allison Sylte

It spawned more than 2,000 news articles in just 24 hours and 5,000 tweets per second at its peak. It led to a 1,000 percent increase in CNN viewership and for the U.S. dollar’s value to rise 0.3 percent, all in honor of a man who eluded capture for almost 10 years and who was responsible for the death of an estimated 3,000 people on 9/11.

And yet for many of the Americans who heard the news of Osama bin Laden’s death on Sunday night, it wasn’t something that just had a quantifiable impact; it was symbolic of something much deeper.

“This closes a chapter on American history,” said State Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins). “Hopefully, this is a chance for us to heal and rebuild, and for us to move forward.”

Kefalas, whose mother and brother currently live in New York City, was in Brooklyn on 9/11, and watched as the towers fell from across the harbor while his brother served as a first-responder at Ground Zero.

“It was indescribable to watch 110-story buildings simply crumble to the ground. The emotions were simply indescribable,” Kefalas said.

His son is a member of the Army, and Kefalas said he hopes bin Laden’s death will serve as a catalyst to begin the process of bringing American troops home.

But according to Ursula Daxecker, an assistant political science professor at CSU, though bin Laden’s death “was a pretty serious development,” it isn’t necessarily a cause for blind celebration, and its real-world effects are yet to be seen.

“(Osama bin Laden) tried to build an organization that could outlive him, and time will tell if he succeeded,” Daxecker said. “I’ve done some research on terrorist organizations, and in some instances, the capture and deathof a key figure have significantly weakened the movement. In others, it did quite the opposite.”

The U.S. military has been on high alert since bin Laden’s death, and Daxecker said that these precautions are for a good reason, as some of bin Laden’s followers may now perceive him as a martyr.

“I’m not sure that cheering would be my preferred response to this development,” Daxecker said. “I think that for me, it’s more somber relief than cheering or excitement, but I think that it’s good news nevertheless.”

During and after Obama’s announcement on Sunday night, many Americans responded to the news via loud cheering, joining large celebrations outside of the White House and Ground Zero and other locations nationwide.

In Corbett Hall, many residents took to the hallways, screaming and jumping up and down in response to the news of bin Laden’s death.

“He got what he deserved,” said Erica Hemenway, a freshman biomedical sciences major and Corbett Hall resident.

For others, though they said these jubilant celebrations were warranted, their personal response was far more reserved.

“I’m not quite sure if the death of another human being is something that warrants loud cheering,” said Matt Strauch, the Associated Students of CSU director of Legislative Affairs.

Most CSU students initially heard of the development over Facebook, and many said they were initially shocked upon seeing the news of bin Laden’s death. Some have spent nearly half of their lives in the shadow of the War on Terror.

“We’ve been chasing him for a very long time, as long as I can remember,” said Annie Larson, an undeclared freshman.

For this generation of CSU students, Daxecker said, though bin Laden’s death is “symbolically significant,” it stands to represent more than one man who served as a foil to U.S. ideology.

This is because the U.S. spends nearly $800 billion a year on defense, with the bulk of the budget going toward the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, she said.

These wars are entrenched in the very conflicts that bin Laden has come to represent, she added.

“Many people are expecting to see bin Laden’s death lead to some sort of major development, but honestly, the results are yet to be seen,” Daxecker said.

She was adamant in saying that what bin Laden’s death will indicate in the future is something that is far from clear, and something that students should continue to follow in the weeks to come.

“For most of my students, Osama bin Laden’s actions have characterized a great part of their adult life,” said Daxecker, who teaches an international security class. “I’ll be interested to hear their take.”

Staff writer Cameron Tafoya contributed to this report.
News Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at

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