One year later: Locals, tourists weigh in on Iraq
PHOTO: SHANE (photos were not filed as of 3:45 p.m.)
It’s not as if Jackie Ogden hasn’t heard war stories before.
Ogden, a Vail code enforcement officer, is surrounded by family members who have served in the military – including her husband, brother and son. But this time a year ago, you can bet Ogden was most concerned for her daughter-in-law, Army Private Syrena Ogden.
Military strikes had just begun in Iraq and Syrena, who had been sent to Kuwait a few months before, was likely somewhere in the Iraqi desert.
Eight months later Syrena returned home. She and her husband, Ogden’s son, B.J., are stationed in South Korea. While the situation in North Korea continues to be tenuous, they are out of harm’s way for now.
But Ogden hasn’t forgotten about the soldiers who are still in Iraq today.
“We just need to continue to show our support for them,” she said. “It’s really important for them when they get back home that they will be treated like heroes. That’s what I think of them.”
Birth of a nation
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Since then, 569 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, according to Defense Department figures. News of suicide bombings in Iraq make headlines every week. And despite American intelligence reports indicating that Iraq was stowing away weapons of mass destruction, they haven’t been found.
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a U.S.-led operation. For only the third time in Iraq’s history, true democratic elections can be held. As for the dictator himself, he has been captured and is likely to face trial for war crimes or crimes against humanity.
Much has changed since March 19, 2003, but most Eagle County residents and visitors say their opinion on the American war on Iraq hasn’t changed a bit.
Cappy Black, a part-time Eagle County resident, supported the war then and he supports it now. The media’s negative portrayal of the Iraqi war is frustrating, he said, and he believes those who hoped for a “short and sweet” military operation were misguided.
“I think what people forget is that after World War II, we still had 50,000 troops in Germany,” Black said. “We are trying to instill democracy in a country that has never had a democracy.”
The war is sure to play a large part in November’s presidential election. President Bush, a Republican, will face off against Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry, who just recently received the party’s nomination.
Black said he believes Bush will be re-elected once the American people realize that the Bush Administration has done “as good as job as possible.”
Bob David, a Florida tourist, disagreed. He is concerned about how two U.S.-led wars in almost a decade will affect the future of Iraq and its people.
“I thought it was going to be a debacle,” David said. “I knew then it was about the oil and I’m not surprised they haven’t found weapons of mass destruction.”
But David, who has a nephew deployed in Iraq now, isn’t sure how that information will affect American voters this fall. “I don’t have a lot of confidence in the American electorate,” he said.
Weapons of mass destruction or not, the world is still a better place without Saddam Hussein, said Elizabeth Rheinhart, another Florida tourist. Ian Bauer, a Vail resident, agreed.
“I think its good,” he said. “Now we can try to take on the terrorists.”
Ogden said she hopes American troops will return home soon.
“I am more supportive of what our military is doing because I have a son and a brother who are on active duty,” she said. “And I have to support them.”
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.