Television Brings Warfront Close To Home

As East Texans send their prayers and support to their troops overseas, many can't help but follow the soldiers from the homefront. Battlefield pictures and satellite phones are bringing the battle home in a way unlike any previous conflict.

On Friday, that access translated into a front row seat for "shock and awe."

Prior to the attacks, many East Texans found it difficult to keep focused. At Don's TV & Appliance in Tyler, a wall of televisions was tuned to seven different news stations. Baghdad was quiet.

Then noon brought storm and fire to the darkened television screens.

"These major airstrikes," Don's Sales Manager Brian Thedford says, "Have stopped our store for just a few moments, and probably all over East Texas, and led us to watch the TV."

Even knowing the attack was coming, people still were stunned by the sirens and explosions, and the assault carried on live television.

"It's definitely shocking," Tyler's Chris Smith said. "You hear about it but you don't really expect it. When you see it you didn't expect it to be as much as it was."

"It's kind of left us staring at the TV," Thedford says. "In amazement but also disbelief."

"The whole shock and awe...I don't really know what to think about it," Longview resident Katy Kinder says.

Through the magic of satellite, the onslaught was beamed home and into our hearts.

"It allows us to tie our hearts in with those troops to let us know what they're going through somewhat," Thedford says.

"But it's a whole different story where they are."

Not only is this the first war with live footage, it's also the first war in the era of the internet. It seems like many people are using the net to keep up with the battles. "Iraq" is the number one word search on the search engine, and "War" is the top internet word in the U.K.

So East Texans continue to follow the war on a battlefield that's closer than ever.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.