Local Veterans Talk About the President's Speech

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Local Veterans of Foreign War members gathered Wednesday at their post to watch the president's speech. So what do they think?

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has the latest.

I talked with some of the members there both before and after to find out what their feelings were and how much they changed after the speech. Some off camera said the effort is vital against terrorism, but others said it's time to come home.

Some members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars played pool just waiting to hear the president speak on Iraq and his new plan. Some of those growing up in the Vietnam era have strong memories and were strong in their feelings on the issue.

"I just want him to bring the troops home. Man, I mean, we've had our hard times, and we need to take care of the backdoor," VFW member Butch Pyle said.

Commentary before the president's speech tabulated both the sacrifices and the cost of the war as the president began.
VFW members waited and watched, but for some it wasn't what they wanted to hear.

"I think the first thing he's doing is he's making a mistake. We've lost a lot of lives over there," Pyle said.

Some feel it's a culture that just cannot be changed.

"Them people been fighting for years and years and years over there, and they need to let them handle their problems. We don't need to be handling their problems," VFW member Rodney Smith said.

The president called Iraq vital in the fight against terrorism, but for Butch Pyle, the terrorism war needs to be of the homeland.

"And they're coming here if we don't get back here and watch our back door," Pyle said.

And for these two men, the president's speech gave them little hope in Iraq.

"I hope it does but maybe not, " Smith said.

It appears the president's speech did little to change the minds of the people we spoke to. Asking what it would take for them to change their minds, they said a change in Iraq.

By the way, the increase in troops there will likely effect a number of Tennessee military families.