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Stars, stripes and salutes

Street Smarts

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Veterans Day, coming this Friday, brings sober reflection and thanksgiving. But does President Obama's announcement of an Iraq troop withdrawal also add a little lightness to this year's holiday?

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Bob Keller of Pueblo West is a retired college professor

How do you feel about the imminent troop withdrawal in Iraq? It's too little, too late. Obama should have done it much sooner than this, like he promised in his presidential campaign.

When will we get out of Afghanistan? We shouldn't have gone in there in the first place, but we have such a huge investment now that we'll maintain a presence for decades, partly because of the natural resources.

Has either war affected you personally? It's affected everyone, if for no other reason than the economic downturn created by conducting two wars simultaneously — and those are only the ones we're officially waging. Anyone saying these wars haven't affected our lives economically is in denial.

Do you know veterans from either war? I'm too old for that. I know a lot of Vietnam vets, though.

Is Colorado Springs welcoming to veterans? They couldn't have a better home. Colorado Springs has been taken over by a right-wing, evangelical, pro-military, Dick Cheney mentality. It's a big reason why I no longer live here.

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Kendall Ackerson of Manitou Springs is a waiter

What's your reaction to Obama pulling troops out of Iraq by year's end? I think it creates a vacuum, what with the situation with Iran heating up. It would have been a good idea to stay there.

How welcoming is our community to veterans? I don't know about veterans as such, but it's certainly welcoming to active military personnel. They get discounts everywhere they go.

What message would you give our local soldiers? Thank you.

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Stephen Granger of the Cragmor area is an unemployed artist

In what way, if any, has either current military conflict affected you? My brother graduated from college by being in ROTC at [the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs], and then enlisting. That brought it closer to home.

Do you know any veterans? I come from a military family. Both my dad and granddad are veterans.

How welcoming is our community to veterans? My family moved here when my dad got stationed at Fort Carson. I've always felt welcome.

What message would you give our local soldiers? To tell the truth, the idea of going into war seems crazy to me, but I absolutely appreciate your service. Thank you.

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