Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rural towns in Midwest turn sour on Iraq war as more of their youth die, Washington Post says

Tipton, Iowa, gave President Bush "the benefit of the doubt" when he launched the war in Iraq, but now that the town of 3,100 has lost two soldiers, its attitude toward Bush and his strategy has "turned more personal and more negative," reports Peter Slevin of The Washington Post's Midwest Bureau in Chicago.

"While opposition to the war has been stronger and more visible on the East and West coasts, small towns in the heartland and the South have provided the Bush administration with some of its most steadfast backers. But that support has cracked amid the echoes of graveside bagpipes and 21-gun salutes, which have been heard with greater frequency in recent months in small Midwestern communities. Two prominent Republican senators who broke with the president this month come from the nation's midsection. Sens. George Voinovich (Ohio) and Richard Lugar (Ind.) said Bush needs to find a new direction in Iraq and a way to start bringing the troops home."

Back to Tipton, and its reaction to the recent death of Army Spec. David W. Behrle: "Regular business at City Hall stopped for a week before Behrle's body came home, as staff members made sure routes were cleared, streets were swept and flags reached the right places. 'In a town of 3,000, you wouldn't expect two of them to be killed,' Mayor Don Young said. The town's weekly newspaper, the Tipton Conservative, devoted its entire front page to the rain-swept, flag-bearing crowds that greeted the return of Behrle's body. Photos of Behrle, from a childhood Halloween to a tour in Iraq, filled an inside page. Included in the brief text was a comment from his family: 'He is 'The Man," and our hero.'" (Read more)

Krista Clark of the Conservative noted in an editorial that the county is now home to a third Iraq casualty: "Cedar County had less contact with Donald Griffith, Jr., the son of Diane and Donald Sr. of Mechanicsville. Twenty-nine when he died in a firefight in Tal Afar, Donny was a career Army soldier who was stationed and living in Ft. Lewis, Wash. before being sent to Iraq. But even though Donny had grown up in Las Vegas, the Griffith family has deep roots in Cedar County, especially in Mechanicsville, and it was back to his parents’ and his wife’s home, back to Cedar County, that he came to be buried after losing his life in the conflict." (Map from MSN Encarta)

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