Born in Libya, Suleiman Darrat of Lexington said he opposed Moammar Gadhafi since "the first days of the regime" more than four decades ago.
Until a few years ago, Darrat, 66, said he avoided calling home after he left the country even when his parents died because the regime retaliated against his family for his opposition. His brother was once detained by Gadhafi's government for four years for taking a phone call from him, Darrat said.
On Monday, Darrat, a recently retired senior lecturer at the University of Kentucky, said he was "joyous" that the Gadhafi regime was said to have ended, but he waits for word of the leader's capture.
"When he is completely gone, that is when people say, 'It is time to celebrate,' " Darrat said.
Mariam Addarrat, 33, who left Libya with her parents when she was two weeks old, waited Monday for her husband to return from a humanitarian trip to Libya. Addarrat said her husband, Ahmed Megariaf, 40, left Libya when he was a teenager. Addarrat said her husband had been in Libya for the past month to provide food and medical supplies to opposition-held territories. Megariaf told her he was in the city of Benghazi, which was fairly safe. He planned to return Tuesday.
"He said he's very optimistic about the country," Addarrat said. "He said people are finally becoming engaged in the political process. For decades under Gadhafi's rule, people just became apathetic to the fact that it was Gadhafi's way or no way."
Her friends in Lexington with ties to Libya "are all very excited, but at the same time we are very cautious because its not over yet," she said.
Sunday "was a pretty euphoric day just because the revolution finally took that last turn. People in Tripoli could actually go out in the streets and express themselves," Addarrat said. "There are still some issues with the loyalists to Gadhafi, the diehards."
Assia Amry, 22, was born in the United States after her parents left Libya in the 1970s to escape the regime.
Amry said she talked on the phone Sunday night to cousins in Libya, who were happy that Internet service had resumed.
Some of her relatives in Libya, she said, "couldn't get to sleep for sheer excitement."
"The ability not to have to have blanket allegiance is something that they are rejoicing," Amry said.
Addarrat estimated that there are 25 to 30 families in Lexington with ties to Libya.
"We're planning on a big party when Gadhafi is captured," she said. "We are waiting on that to throw the biggest party ever."
Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3409.