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Americans Greet War with Mixed Feelings

Americans Greet War with Mixed Feelings

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- As President Bush told the nation that the United States had launched a strike on Iraq, the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville opened its doors to the community to watch on two big screens -- and to pray.

About 15 people were on hand during a 30-minute service after Bush's speech Wednesday night to pray for the troops and the nation's leaders.

"I really hate that we had to do this," said church member Tom Hinton, 68, a former Marine. "It worries me. This chemical warfare is something different. ... I'm not as gung-ho as I was 50 years ago. But we've got to get rid of this dictator, there's no question about it."

Americans Greet War with Mixed Feelings

In New York -- the city where the Sept. 11, 2001, attack started the U.S. war on terror -- people greeted the start of military action against Saddam Hussein with both support and sadness.

"I'm all for it. You had to live here to understand it. We lost everything you can imagine," said Vince Diamonde, 55, who was walking near the World Trade Center site with his wife and son.

Not everyone agreed.

"It's a sad day in the history of the world. Our president is in violation of international principles," said the Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., pastor of Salvation Baptist Church in Brooklyn and executive director of New York-based Pastors for Peace.

In New Orleans, a basketball game between the New Orleans Hornets and the New York Knicks was stopped for a short period to allow the crowd to watch the president's address on big-screen TVs. Many fans stood and applauded before play resumed.

In San Diego, Suzanne Hoefler said she could only think of her husband, Navy Petty Officer John Hoefler, who left in January for the Arabian Gulf.

"I thought I was prepared for this, but I'm really not," she said.

For veterans of the first Gulf War, the news brought back vivid memories. Jeff McGill of Louisville, Ky., remembers the Arabian night set aglow by the synchronized launching of missiles from U.S. warships. And David Worley, also of Louisville, recalls the hungry and haggard Iraqi soldiers, shellshocked by weeks of bombing, surrendering in droves.

"It doesn't surprise me that we've had to go back in," said McGill, who was a seaman aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin in 1991. "I wish we could have taken care of it the first time and we wouldn't have to do all this again."

Americans Greet War with Mixed Feelings

As Bush's speech came over the television Thursday night in Portland, Ore., a few patrons at Rialto, a downtown bar, billiards hall and betting parlor, jeered at the screen.

"How many people are going to die? What does this have to do with the Twin Towers in New York? It's a huge distraction that is going to cost thousands of lives," said patron Hank Lazenby.

But patrons at a bar in Little Rock, Ark., erupted into applause after Bush announced that the United States and its "coalition of the willing" had launched aerial attacks on Iraq early Thursday.

"I think Saddam has had plenty of time to disarm," said Jeff Davidson, who interrupted a game of pool at the West End Sports Bar. "I pray for everyone as far as our military is concerned. We're fighting for the freedom of everyone to stay away from nuts like that."

Walter Christiansen of Minneapolis says he welcomes the air strikes against Iraq. He says the U-S attack will deter other dictators.

His wife, Angie Christiansen, says Saddam Hussein reminds her of Hitler. She said ignoring Saddam would be akin to how the world allowed Hitler to continue to build power in the late 1930s.

Rich Hubbard, a musician and piano tuner from Berkeley, California, was among thousands of protesters in the San Francisco's Mission District. He said he wasn't surprised to hear that a military strike was ordered after the deadline passed.

He also says that if he does not speak out, then -- quote -- "the blood is on my hands."

Inside the Bellagio hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, about 100 people stopped gambling and fixed their eyes on televisions at a casino bar as Bush spoke.

Businessman Ted Keech of San Jose, California, stood inside the sports book at the Reno Hilton after Bush's speech. He says he isn't surprised by the attack. In his words, "It's probably one of the least shocking news interruptions you could have. "

Joan Chiverton says she's upset. She watched President Bush's speech with her daughter, Julia, at home just west of Albany, New York.

Chiverton says she believes the U-S is going to war with Iraq because of Iraq's oil.

Julia is a freshman at Barnard College but is home this week for spring break. She calls Bush "hypocritical" and says he disregarded voices of people opposed to the war.

The reaction was a little different from busboy Tim Liston at a bar in St. Louis. Liston says he's convinced the U-S needs to invade Iraq. In Liston's words, "Saddam is Hitler, almost."

About 15 people at the bar grew quiet and listened to the president's speech. Bartender Maria Reel says Bush's comments frightened her -- she has a 17-year-old son. But she also says it is right to go after Saddam Hussein. In San Diego, Suzanne Hoefler's thoughts are with her husband -- Navy Petty Officer John Hoefler. He left in January for the Arabian Gulf. Suzanne Hoefler says she thought she was prepared for the start of hostilities. But, now she says -- "I'm really not."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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