East Texans Have Different Opinions About Violence In Iraq - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/12/04 - Tyler

East Texans Have Different Opinions About Violence In Iraq

East Texans feel differently about the images of Iraqi prisoners and the beheading of an American.

Wednesday we spoke with people representing two distinct generations.

The pictures of alleged abuse in the Iraqi prison has sparked investigations, a Presidential apology and now court martials. Tuesday, a video of American Nick Berg brutally beheaded, was released. His killers said it was in retaliation for the abuse.

For a group of Vietnam veterans in Tyler, that's no excuse. "I don't think letting people not sleep, making them a prisoner of war is torture. I didn't see anybody beating them up, cutting their hands off and fingers. I mean I'm sorry you're a prisoner and you've been killing our men. We need to know who's behind the attacks on our troops everyday and you just can't say 'hi, who's your boss,'" says Mike Runkel.

The veterans we spoke with take criticism of the military very personally. They say the public and politicians are in no position to judge whether the guards made the right decisions.

"We're only human. When we're at war all our buddies are our family. We protect them and they protect us. Our lives depend on it. We're sleeping with them, we're eating with them. That's the way it is. If someone destroys your family you're going to react just like those soldiers react. That's war. War's hell," says veteran Richard Minyard.

Across town at UT Tyler, Iraq was the topic of conversation. But the young people say they are more upset at the American military because they say we should be held to a higher standard. "I would say they probably don't have as much respect because I know I don't have as much respect for the military. I know a lot of things have gone on in the military in years past in other wars but I don't think it's ever been as public as this," says student Loree Ainesworth.

The students also say they wished the administration had worked to free Berg before his murder. "I think it's important to think about where the Iraqi people are coming from . They did try to negotiate. They said that they would give us their prisoners if we would give them their prisoner and we refused," says student Megan Cheek.

Though these two groups see the violence in Iraq very differently, they do agree there is hope that one day Iraq can be a free nation.

Amy Tatum reporting. atatum@kltv.com

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