Youth share opinions on war

For David Smith, 14, of Woodbridge, the war with Iraq hits especially close to home. His father is a member of the U.S. Army and works at Fort Belvoir, so Smith has concerns about his father being sent to Iraq.

“My dad might have to go and I worry about that,” said the Lake Ridge Middle School student. “I think the war was unavoidable and it’s not a good thing, but we had to do it. It would just have to happen eventually.”

Too young to remember the first Gulf War, Smith feels Coalition forces will prevail in bringing down the Saddam Hussein regime. When the air strikes began in Baghdad on Wednesday, Smith said he watched the news for about an hour. He said he’s also concerned about the threat of terrorism in the United States.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” he added.

Smith is one of many young adults in the area whose reactions varied about the war Thursday afternoon at the Potomac Mills mall — less than 24 hours after the first strikes triggered anti-aircraft weapons in Baghdad.

Saddam should have been disarmed 12 years ago during the war in the Persian Gulf said Jennifer Checo, 22, of Woodbridge. Checo said she’s followed the war on television and approves of it because the “U.S. created Saddam Hussein.”

“We gave him weapons to fight 20 years ago. He’s a monster and we should have taken him out a long time ago,” she said.

Referring to Wednesday evening’s speech by President Bush, Checo said she would rather have the fighting take place in Iraq rather than with terrorists in the United States.

“I think a lot of their soldiers will surrender, but getting Saddam Hussein might take awhile,” she added.

Checo’s brother, Christopher Lee, 14, of Woodbridge, stayed up late Wednesday watching the war coverage. He thinks the war will last about a month, and that coalition forces will earn a quick victory.

“I think we should have attacked. They’re a threat,” he said.

Woodbridge resident Amy MacLeod, 20, has mixed emotions about the war. MacLeod is concerned about the economy — because war is “not good for it” — and about the Iraqis retaliating on the United States with biological terror like anthrax.

“Of course war isn’t right, but we’re being threatened, so what are we supposed to do?” she asked. “… I don’t want to watch it (on television) because I get freaked out. My roommates are scared too; they’re scared of biological weapons.”

A young adult, called “R.F.,” 19, from Woodbridge, said he doesn’t question the president, but questions his actions to attack Iraq. He said President Bush has done a good job thus far, but thinks the war is an act of vengeance.

“I’m not against the war, but if you look back at the history books, we really didn’t win the Gulf War,” said. “War is not exactly a positive thing, but it’s the last result of what we’ve been trying to do in Iraq and there’s nothing we can do about it now … I think Saddam Hussein is long gone by now.”

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