The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Veterans urge troop support

Americans must present a united front in support of the conflict with Iraq because anti-war demonstrations can slowly erode soldiers’ morale, a Vietnam war veteran told students and community members gathered for a pro-war rally Sunday.
“There’s a time to protest, but when the shooting starts, we all need to support the troops,”said Mike Southerland, a Bryan businessman and Vietnam veteran.
About 50 people gathered at the Academic Plaza at a rally organized by the Texas A&M chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas to show their support for American forces in Iraq.
The right to demonstrate against the war should not excuse Americans from their obligation to support forces in the field, Southerland said.
“For 30 years, nobody ever publicly thanked me for my service,” Southerland said. “And there was always a question in my mind as to whether we did the right thing.”
Vocal anti-war protests not only degrade soldiers’ morale on the frontlines, but feelings of doubt can linger long after the fighting has stopped, Southerland said.
“It’s always in the back of your mind, what are we doing here?” Southerland said. “It may not come to fruition then, but it does affect you.”
Richard Stadelmann, a philosophy professor at A&M, also addressed the rally and defended the decision to invade Iraq against critics who claim it is an unwarranted act of aggression.
The war, Stadelmann said, is the final phase of an effort to disarm Saddam Hussein that began with the Persian Gulf war ceasefire agreement. If Iraq is allowed to continue stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, those weapons will likely fall into the hands of terrorists, Stadelmann said.
“This is a just war, a defensive war being fought to preserve our way of life,”Stadelmann said.
The stiff opposition American forces are encountering in Iraq has not dampened the resolve of the protesters, who said they will see the war through to victory.
It’s our duty right now to support our president and our troops,” said Jeff Graham, a sophomore management major. “Freedom isn’t free, and (President George W. Bush) has told us that there will be sacrifices.”

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