Families React To Iranian President - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/24/07-Longview

Families React To Iranian President

The visit of the Iranian president has angered some East Texans, many who have loved ones serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm all for open dialogue, but inviting him hear to speak, in my opinion, is a slap in the face to the service members past and present who basically provide the blanket of freedom that we all sleep under every night," said Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran Mike Augustine.

President Ahmadinejad's address to Columbia University students has repercussions all the way to East Texas, many questioning why we would allow it to begin with.

"When I look at him on television, I look at the personification of evil. All they think about is killing Americans over there, and they're funneling weapons over there," said Vietnam Veteran John Moses.

But some believe we should learn what we can by letting Ahmadinejad speak.

"I think if anybody has a right to be emotional about this subject, I do. I have a son that has been wounded and over there fighting right now. Maybe if we listen to him, not give him a soap-box , ask the hard questions, maybe we could learn something that might help my son and the other soldiers over there," said Vicki Tidwell, who's son is a Marine Iraq War Veteran.

Others believe nothing good can come from it.

"Freedom of speech for citizens who actually live in our country ... not for all practical purposes a dictator from another country that's providing weapons to kill our U.S. men and women," Augustine said.

"The way you can tell he's lying is every time he opens his mouth" said Moses.

Most families we spoke with today, although opposed to the Iranian president's visit, did feel that it does show other countries that freedom of speech applies to all people in the U.S.

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com.

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