BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) -- Just hours after the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, an American flag is found burned on the LSU campus. No one is confirming a connection between the terrorist’s death and the flag burning, but the act has left many students unsettled.
“I think we all went to bed with a sense of American pride,” says Sgt. Austin Stukins with the Marine Corp. “Then, to wake up this morning to find that someone had the audacity to yank that flag down, which we all have fought for so hard to keep flying over this country for so many years. It was disheartening to say the least.”
Sgt. Stukins’ reaction is mirrored across the campus. “It took everything in me not to cry,” says former student government candidate, David Jones.
The American flag that flew over the war memorial on campus was cut down from the flagpole and burned.
“I think it’s just completely unacceptable and unjustified for anyone to steal the symbol of our country and then to deface it,” says junior Brittany Courville.
“That’s our livelihood of our nation,” adds senior Theodore Williams. “[It’s] the thing that really brings us together, so it really hits me hard.”
Some students wonder if Osama bin Laden’s death triggered the act. “I find it very hard to believe that it’s just a coincidence,” says Courville. “That’s not to say that it wouldn’t have happened eventually, but I think it was definitely a catalyst.”
A group of cadets showed up with a stand-in flag when they learned of the burning. They’ve been standing watch at the War Memorial all day. They say they’ll continue to guard the new flag until a more permanent one can take its place.
“I think this shows our Tiger pride,” says Williams.
The cadets were joined by a somber crowd for a prayer vigil. “I had to do something,” says Jones. When he heard about what had happened, he called as many friends as he could to join him at the War Memorial for a few minutes to honor the stars and stripes.
Jones says he asked students not to be angry. Instead, he hopes that they’ll pray for peace. “I cannot dignify an action of hatred and stupidity with hatred, with more stupidity,” he says.
It’s a reminder that America’s spirit can’t be broken. “I’m a patriot,” says Jones. “I love and breathe American and I’d give my life for this country.”
LSU police say they have a lead in the investigation. Check out Fox44 News for more details as they become available.