Ohioans reflect on president's address to the nation - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Ohioans reflect on president's address to the nation

By TERRY KINNEY, Associated Press Writer

A drawing of an Abrams tank hung over the television in the cozy room where Mary Staun graded her fourth grade students' papers and watched President Bush address the nation.

Her son, Will, 22, is a gunner in a tank like that one and suffered a severed artery in his arm when a shell hit his tank during an initial foray into Baghdad last month.

"He's doing fine," Staun said Thursday night at her Cincinnati home. "It could have been so much worse."

With two daughters, a son and a son-in-law in the Army in Iraq, Staun rejoiced with the sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln as Bush said that major combat operations had ended.

"Yeah, it's feeling good, isn't it guys?" Staun said.

The only thing lacking in the president's speech were the words she wanted to hear most about her children: "That they are coming home tomorrow."

"But I know that's not a possibility. So I guess I'll give my kids up until this is over," she said.

Bill and Mary Staun's oldest daughter, 1st Lt. Rosemarie Sutton, 24, is a West Point graduate who coordinates delivery of supplies near Baghdad.

Rosemarie's husband, Capt. Mack Sutton, is an infantry officer.

The Stauns' youngest child, Peggy, 19, is a military police officer.

"I hope they're broadcasting this to the troops in Iraq," said Mary Staun, who calls herself an Independent but has become a strong Bush supporter.

"My kids are so glad he's president," she said. "He's somebody they can be proud of, who has morals and ethics."

Jody Fike of Hamilton had mixed emotions. Her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Curtis Fike, is stationed in Kuwait.

"When President Bush was talking about the soldiers who are not coming back home, that really hit home," Fike said. "But, this is a good feeling. We are headed in the right direction."

One of the most vocal opponents of the Bush administration's Iraq policy has been U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The Cleveland-area Democrat reiterated his position Thursday night, saying regardless of the war's outcome, military action in Iraq was wrong.

"While the United States has won a military victory in Iraq, the administration never justified the war, rendering it a diplomatic and foreign policy failure," Kucinich said.

Dr. Nezar Rahim, a former Iraqi who lives in the Cleveland suburb of Moreland Hills, said the president was justified to declare a military success.

"I don't think the (Saddam Hussein) regime will come back in any way, although some people are still cautious and even scared because Saddam has not been caught or found dead or alive," Rahim said.

Rahim left Iraq about 30 years ago, and he and his wife have relatives there. He wants to return temporarily to help, but not until Iraq is more secure.

While Bush addressed the nation, the first-floor television lounge at a Cleveland State University dormitory was turned into a party-room for an end-of-spring-classes celebration.

Jocelyn Legard, 18, a freshman from Elyria, said she wasn't interested in watching Bush but supported the administration's policies.

"I think it's great that we could help out another country," she said. "It's kind of sad that we had to send our troops over there, but I know it wasn't all for nothing. Saddam is out, so we are going to free Iraq. Who knows what good will come out of this."

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said the challenge now becomes securing a better future for the people of Iraq.

"Our work to promote stability and reconstruction in Iraq must be thorough, but we must remain in the country only as long as it takes to get the job done," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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