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The war in Iraq: local residents speak out

By Michael Beadle

When it comes to the war in Iraq, Americans are divided on what should be done, but a majority of Haywood County residents recently interviewed in a random sampling say the U.S. should stay in Iraq until security is restored.

Several shoppers at the Wal-Mart near Lake Junaluska said they wanted to see the U.S. military remain in Iraq.

“We’ve got to stay,” said Peggy Thomas of Lake Junaluska. “I don’t think we have a choice. We’ve got to finish our job.”

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy, Thomas added.

“It’s almost like a civil war over there, a shame, it really is,” she said.

Another shopper, Ray Singleton of Bethel, put the situation in more urgent terms.

“If we don’t do the job, then we’ll be fighting them [terrorists] all over here,” he said. Singleton spent two years of active service in the Navy and 13 years total in the Reserve.

For Gina Shuler of Clyde, American troops need to come home within a year.

“I don’t support President Bush at all,” Shuler said. Too many U.S. soldiers have already been killed, she said, so the Iraqis should “fight their own problems.”

Shoppers walking into the Ingles in Waynesville had various viewpoints as well, but most agreed the U.S. would have to stay in Iraq for some time.

“I think we should stick with it,” said Lisa Nilles of Crabtree. “Stay as long as we need to.”

Sally Moore, a seasonal resident who splits part of the year in Maggie Valley and part of the year in Charlotte, said she was glad President Bush took a stand against terrorists.

“I truly support our troops,” Moore said, adding with a sigh that she would love to see them come home.

“It sounds so easy,” she said.

If you look at the history of the region, the danger of terrorism is nothing new, Moore explained.

“This isn’t something that happened yesterday,” she said. “I don’t know how you solve a problem that’s been there for 2,000, 3,000 years.”

Meanwhile, Emily Kepley of Clyde and Logan Labbe-Jarrell of Waynesville, were troubled by America’s foreign policy around the world and had doubts as to why the U.S. invaded Iraq.

“I think we shouldn’t have gone in the first place,” Kepley said.

But now that the U.S. is there in Iraq, it’s going to be hard to get out, the two ladies agreed.

The military should continue to work on rebuilding Iraq and offering medical help to make up for the damage it has done to the country, Labbe-Jarrell said.

Kepley said her parents’ wedding anniversary, which falls on the same day as the 9/11 anniversary, has been subdued in recent years. Yet while there is a great outcry over civilian deaths from 9/11, Kepley wonders why many Americans don’t also worry about the more than 30,000 civilian deaths in Iraq.

“There’s great grief everywhere in the world,” Kepley said.

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