10/23/11 — Decision good news for troops

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Decision good news for troops

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 23, 2011 1:50 AM

Johnny Bartlett cracked a smile when he started talking about President Barack Obama's announcement that the war in Iraq would be over by the end of the year.

"One down. One to go," he said. "And it's about time."

The Goldsboro resident has been "sick and tired," he added, of hearing reports of American service members wounded and killed in a country he doesn't believe the United States should have entered in the first place.

"Especially with all the problems we're having right here," Bartlett said. "I mean, don't get me wrong, Saddam was a bad dude. The world's a better place with him off the planet. But rebuilding that country isn't worth all the pain these families back home have been going through since their dad or brother got shot up."

Wayne County residents are among those reacting to the president's latest announcement.

But many did so with another press conference still fresh in their minds.

"First bin Laden, now this," said Regina Fairchild, a self-described Republican. "He's really showing a flare for the dramatic trying to get the country behind him."

But her skepticism about just why Obama decided to end the war did not "water down" her excitement for the thousands of families who will, as a result of the president's decree, be reunited with their loved ones this holiday season.

"I'm so happy for them. They deserve it," Ms. Fairchild said. "The kids especially. They deserve a chance to be with mom and dad at Christmas."

Others shared the woman's perspective.

Like Brenden Holt, a 20-year-old living in Mount Olive who said the president is "using" the military for political gain.

"It's not right," he said. "But the good news for us is that we see through him. And for the guys coming home in a few months, the good news is that Obama's run at four more years means no more Iraq to deal with."

But Holt, like Ms. Fairchild, said he has always supported the military -- even if he, like Bartlett, has questions about why the U.S. engaged Iraq again in the first place.

"I love our troops. This is North Carolina, isn't it?" he said. "We love our military more than anybody, but that doesn't mean we should have to love sending them to get killed so we can build schools for a country that doesn't want them."

Laney Duncan agreed.

"How much money have we blown in Iraq? Billions? Trillions? And for what? To kill one guy?" she said. "I know some people think it's worth it, but I really don't."

Some, though, disagree that the effort in Iraq was unjust and unnecessary.

"I hate people who bash George W. Bush for 'lying' to the country and taking us to war. The man -- and a lot of Democrats, by the way -- saw a problem and handled it. Period," mechanic Michael Watts said. "Sometimes, you do things for future generations that aren't easy. At least Bush took a stand. What has this president done besides take credit for things our military busted their humps getting done. Osama and Iraq are not his victories to claim."

And others simply wanted to celebrate without dwelling on the politics many of their fellow citizens say led to it.

"Pulling out of Iraq should be another moment -- like when the World Trade Center got hit or when we killed bin Laden -- for us to remember that we are all free," said Molly Hunter, a 32-year-old nurse and mother of two. "I know my girls are gonna be in red, white and blue at church tomorrow. We need to show all our Seymour Johnson guys how much we love them. We need to thank them for this. We need to thank everyone who keeps us free. Then, only when we finally come home from Afghanistan, should we start talking about what these wars did for our country. Getting into that, 'Should we have gone to Iraq?' stuff is only going to make our troops feel like we don't support them, you know? And that's not right."