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The War On Terror In Montana

by Richard Stern

"...the war of my childhood was something like yours: relatives overseas, ship yards running 24 hours a day, Victory gardens (my mother's garden was generous), saving fat, tinfoil and soap.
The present war is evidently NOTHING like yours. Every small town has displays with photos of dozens of local kids who are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Every death is marked with long stories in the newspapers. The Blackfeet send every soldier, male and female, off to war with an eagle feather and honor songs and welcome each back with a small parade through town.
In Great Falls, where Malmstrom Air Force Base is located and the families of the soldiers work around town, clerks have piano wire nerves drawn taut by worry. On the way to Great Falls we pass missile siloes -- one is just over the hill from my town and they say that if fired, the backwash from the rocket might set the town on fire. If it is nuclear-armed and goes wrong, I won't know about it. I won't even be pink mist, as are enemies in Iraq when hit by heavy fire.
No one is bored. We are very weary. We worry about the economy and about law enforcement since so many of our best people have been called up in the Reserve. Yet I would wager than fewer than twenty Montanans were ever in the World Trade Towers when they existed.