War days coming to their end, say locals

Friday, April 11, 2003

When Howard Clary's television set showed a jubilant Iraqi people working to topple a statue of Saddam Hussein earlier this week, he said it perfectly symbolized the downfall of a regime.

"When they took down that statue, it looked like he was waving goodbye," said the Cape Girardeau resident. "It was a very proud moment, very proud."

No matter how they felt about the war, Southeast Missouri residents cautiously said on Thursday that it looks like it's close to being over.

"It looks like it is," said Kathy Huckstep of Jackson. "There's still a lot going on and some work to be done. But it looks like the worst is over and I think that is a good thing."

If it is, indeed, close to being over, the speed of the war also impressed some.

"I grew up in the Vietnam war, which lasted for years," said Randy Bartlett of Cape Girardeau. "This war proceeded rather rapidly. Everything about it has justified our expenses and weapons."

Bartlett also agreed that the United States shouldn't be involved in running Iraq, and that should be left to the Iraqi people and free elections.

"Our heavy military part is coming to an end," he said. "There's going to be a lot of work to rebuild the country. We need to help them and guide them to establish a new, free government."

Pam Simmers of Jackson agreed.

"We need to take control and then give it to the people of Iraq," she said. "Help them set up a better line of government."

The sights and sounds of war have resonated with ordinary people, who have had ring-side seats in a conflict that has been televised and written about -- in newspapers and on the Internet -- around the clock for the past three weeks.

"I've been watching it every day," said Tammy Cobb of Sikeston, who was in Cape Girardeau shopping on Thursday. "I'll be glad when it's over and our guys get back home."

Cobb admitted that at first she was unsure about whether or not the United States should be involved in the war. But as reports came home about atrocities committed under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, she realized it was a just war.

"I came to feel is was the right thing to do," she said. "That doesn't mean I don't want it to be over. We all do, right?"

Scott Hubbard of Cape Girardeau said he also thinks the worst is over -- but he'll wait to proclaim victory.

"I don't think it's over until they wipe out those pockets of resistance," he said Thursday after leaving the mall. "They still haven't found chemical weapons and until they do, we're in trouble."


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