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Don't forget the families of those serving in Iraq

March 21, 2003

Armed with intelligence that they felt pinpointed the location of Saddam Hussein, at about 9 p.m. Eastern Standard time Wednesday, U.S. armed forces launched cruise missiles and precision guided bombs at the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The time for debate over whether or not this war should be fought is done. Citizens' attention must now be focused on those Americans doing the fighting.

Wednesday's American attack set off air raid sirens in Baghdad and observers reported that Iraqi anti-aircraft rounds lit up the skies. A Scud missile launched at U.S. troops in Kuwait was intercepted by a U.S. Patriot missile and there were scattered reports of Iraqi soldiers surrendering.

As this is being written, there has been little effective resistance, but that does not mean that American troops are out of harm's way yet. Pushed into a corner, with his grip on power slipping, Saddam Hussein may decide to use chemical or biological weapons of the type he employed years ago to quell a rebellion by Iraq's Kurdish citizens.

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Such an action would put at risk some of our neighbors, relatives and friends who serve in a variety of active duty, Reserve and National Guard units.

On the battlefield, those men and women will have to depend on each other and the weapons created by American technology. But at home, their families need the help of relatives, friends and neighbors to get them through.

We ask our readers to extend a hand to these families. Offer to baby-sit, invite them for a meal or just lend an ear to talk. Be upbeat and if you or someone you know had a bad experience in wartime, don't bring that up. Service families need comfort, not reminders of the awful things that might happen.

Finally, consider donating blood. Even if it's not needed overseas, the post-9/11 outpouring of donations is long gone, in part because most of the new blood-freezing machines talked about in 2001 haven't been deployed yet, according to Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

We pray such donations aren't needed, but in case they are, call your local Red Cross chapter for information on how to donate. Doing something positive will be better than sitting around worrying about events taking place half a world away.

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