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Website title: Anger simmers below the grief as Ohio dabs Iraq wounds - Yahoo! News
CLEVELAND, United States (AFP) - Anger at the Iraq war simmered below the grief, as the midwestern state of Ohio remembered 15 marines killed in a deadly week for American forces in Iraq.
Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell told mourners at an open air memorial service for the marines, killed in two separate roadside bombings, that they should show support for the troops whatever their views of the Bush administration or the war.
Most people interviewed after the service, which included wailing bagpipes and prayers for the fallen, honored that request, taking care to explain they showed up to express solidarity with troops abroad.
"This city as a whole is really distraught about what happened in Iraq," said Cleveland resident Sandra Powell, dabbing her eyes.
Another mourner, Vietnam War veteran David Buttran, said: "the fallen troops deserve to be honored, that is what pulled us out here."
But some people at the rally, went on to say, unprompted, that they had either disapproved of the war, or turned against it as it dragged on, after the swift ouster of Saddam Hussein following the March 2003 invasion.
"People are mad, we need to get out of Iraq," said Pat Maffo, from Cleveland, after attending an emotion-laded open air memorial services for the marines, killed in two separate roadside bombings.
"I didn't believe we should be there in Iraq," said Chuck Judd, a Cleveland city cop.
Another man, who watched religious leaders salute the fallen marines and sang along as a marine bandsman chanted "God Bless America," said he had supported the invasion of Iraq at the outset, but was being swayed by its cost.
"At first I thought that the war was a good thing, but now I want the troops to come home," said Dave McVean from Cleveland.
"But I know if we leave too soon, there could be a civil war over there, but I am afraid it is going to be another Vietnam."
It would not be surprising to find strong opposition to the Iraq war in Cleveland, especially given the tragic circumstances.
The city has long sided with Democratic Party candidates, and President George W. Bush's victory in the state in last year's election was built on strong support in rural more conservative areas.
But no one among at least 20 people interviewed at the rally expressed strong support for the war, more than two years after the invasion and toppling of Saddam.
Democratic Party Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who made stiff opposition to the Iraq War a centerpiece of his failed presidential campaign last year, said it was too soon to weigh the political implications of the latest deaths in Iraq.
"We show our support and love the troops, whatever our opinion," said Kucinich, whose district includes the Brook Park headquarters for the targeted 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, in an interview with AFP.
"It is not the time, but there will be a time for those questions."
Buttran, who fought North Vietnamese guerrillas in the DMZ in Vietnam between 1966 and 1967, spoke from experience, when he said Americans should never question soldiers serving abroad.
Troops hate being "over there and in a combat zone and hearing that you are murderers and killers," Buttran said, referring to student protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
Mark Elliott, mayor of Brook Park, also declined to discuss politics: "my conversations with people have been about their feelings about what has happened, they haven't shared their thoughts about the war with me."
But Powell, when asked if she agreed with Bush that the troops had died for a noble cause, replied: "if we sacrificed for schools and hospitals -- that would be a noble cause."
At least 38 US military personnel have died in Iraq in the last 10 days -- in one of the deadliest outbreaks of insurgent violence since the March 2003 invasion.
The marines were the latest victims of a war which up until Thursday had claimed the lives of 1,813 US troops, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures, and an unknown number of Iraqi civilians.
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