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By Stephen Wall • Guest Columnist

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb exploded 1,500 feet over Hiroshima. Only 1.5 percent of the 60-plus pounds of uranium 235 actually underwent nuclear fission, but the blast was the equivalent of 15 thousand tons of TNT. About 70,000 people, mostly civilians, were incinerated almost instantaneously, and another 70,000 died in the following months. 

Currently the U.S. and Russia each have about 1,700 nuclear warheads on actual ready-to-launch status, aimed at each other’s homeland. A typical Russian missile carries six warheads, each with about 10 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb. So each of several hundred deployed Russian missiles has the destructive force of 60 Hiroshima bombs. Every American needs to think about what those numbers mean to them and their families.

The Wait of War

It is known by many names. 

Some call it the Second Indochina War. Some call it the Resistance War. Some call it the American War.

coverVeterans Day is a time set aside each year to honor the people who have put their lives on the line to protect the freedom of others. Each veteran, whether they served in World War II or Iraq, have a different story to tell. This year, a female veteran and one Cherokee tribal elder share their experiences of serving in WWII while leaders of veteran organizations discuss the challenges of staying relevant to younger generations of service men and women. 

fr veteransWhen Bobby Rathbone came home from Vietnam over 40 years ago, joining a veterans group was the last thing on his mind. Drafted into war, fighting in Vietnam was hardly something to celebrate or wear on his sleeve.

fr wolfeJerry Wolfe is a storyteller. Whether he’s telling a story of his people at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian or retelling his years spent in the U.S. Navy, the 91-year-old remembers every detail.

fr mashburnWhen 91-year-old Gertrude Mashburn tells strangers she’s a World War II veteran — a topic she usually brings up early in a conversation — she’s often met with skepticism. 

op frBy Doug Wingeier • Columnist

A group calling ourselves “Neighbors for Peace” have been holding a peace vigil in front of the Haywood County Courthouse nearly every Wednesday — rain or shine — since before the start of “Shock and Awe” in March 2003. At first we were met with some hostility by passersby who supported the Iraq War and thought that being for peace was unpatriotic. But gradually, over the 11 years since then, we have received more and more support and affirmation — in the form of waves, honks, V for victory signs, thank yous and some who stop to converse and even join us.

We still get the occasional finger, catcall, obscenity or argument, however. And recently a person walked up to us and angrily shouted several times in our faces, “You are offensive” — giving us no opportunity to respond. Some who stop are veterans home from Iraq or Afghanistan, and most of these — having personally experienced the horror and insanity of war — voice agreement with us.

op frBy Doug Wingeier • Guest Columnist

It doesn’t seem to matter which political party a president belongs to: if he wants to go to war he’ll find a way, regardless of what the American people may want. We are tired of war — civilian and military deaths, billions drained away from domestic needs, lives disrupted, families separated, futures ruined. 

One president falsely claimed weapons of mass destruction. Now another wishes to rain death on Syrians in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons. Fortunately, though, this time he has agreed to seek Congressional approval. So we must urge our representatives not to grant it. Here are some reasons we can use to persuade them to refrain from military action:

fr nationalguardAs Lieutenant James Rossi took the stage in his fatigues, a toddler’s voice cut across the auditorium, breaking the otherwise formal and borderline somber ceremony marking the imminent deployment of local National Guard troops to Afghanistan.

bookSince the Second World War, Americans have lived by the old dictum that only the dead have seen the end of war. For almost 70 years we have served as the world’s policeman, opposing the Soviet Union in a cold war, communism in Korea and Vietnam in hot wars, and a variety of fanatics, terrorists, and dictators in wars hot and cold. We fought to a stalemate in Korea, lost in Vietnam, won the Cold War, and won — at least militarily — the battles of the Middle East. Our armed services remain the most battle-tested in the world, and we spend far more on these services than any other country. (A good part of this spending, incidentally, is for veterans’ entitlements). 

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