He's over there defending Halliburton

click to enlarge Meredith Barlow, Fayetteville, N.C. - Jim Stawniak
Jim Stawniak
Meredith Barlow, Fayetteville, N.C.

"He's over there defending Halliburton," says Jeffrey Harper of Georgia's Paulding County, west of Atlanta. We ran into him at a church service in Alligator Point, Fla. The war is a political watershed for Southerners. Whether for or against, both sides claim to be patriots.

Jeffrey Harper: "My daughter Tonya is a schoolteacher in [an Atlanta suburb in] Cobb County. Her husband is in the National Guard, and he got his second notice, his second call-up since 9/11. How many people are being uprooted because no one has the courage to restart the draft or to end this war? In every other war, they had the draft, and young men from across society were called to serve. Why are they just sending veterans, family men and fathers, to Iraq? The war is totally unnecessary."

Laila Everett helps her husband run a contracting business on North Carolina's coast. "Building materials are up 125 percent. Home loan interest rates are low, so people aren't feeling the high cost of building materials yet. Why is the cost of building materials soaring? Because of the war in Iraq. It doesn't cost more to produce lumber, but so much of it is going to Iraq. When interest rates start back up, what with the cost of building materials, a lot of Americans won't be able to afford homes. It will be a real slowdown. People will be paying for the war in Iraq."

At Ranger Joe's Militaria near Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., Awilda Reyes was helping Spec. Ben Frank and his fiancee, Spec. Meredith Barlow, two young soldiers both recruited by her dad, a sergeant. Barlow just returned from Iraq, Frank is on his way.

Awilda Reyes: "No one wants to go to Iraq. But a lot of them are going. I tell them, 'Hurry back home. Come back safe.' But we all know they have to go and it's the right thing. We back Bush. No question. With our customers, it's 'Bush, Bush, Bush.'"

Ben Frank: "I think the situation in Iraq is positive. We're doing a lot of good things. We're both medics, so our jobs improve things with people."

Meredith Barlow (talking about accused Abu Ghraib prison torturer Pfc. Lynndie England, now stationed at Fort Bragg): "I just don't know what to believe. The media, TV, they pick one thing and they say we're all doing that sort of thing. I know I wouldn't do that. It's horrible."

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