NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As President Bush told the nation that the United States had launched a strike on Iraq, the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville opened its doors to the community to watch on two big screens — and to pray.
About 15 people were on hand during a 30-minute service after Bush's speech Wednesday night to pray for the troops and the nation's leaders.
"I really hate that we had to do this," said church member Tom Hinton, 68, a former Marine. "It worries me. This chemical warfare is something different. . . . I'm not as gung-ho as I was 50 years ago. But we've got to get rid of this dictator, there's no question about it."
In New York — the city where the Sept. 11, 2001, attack started the U.S. war on terror — people greeted the start of military action against Saddam Hussein with both support and sadness.
"I'm all for it. You had to live here to understand it. We lost everything you can imagine," said Vince Diamonde, 55, who was walking near the World Trade Center site with his wife and son.
Not everyone agreed.
"It's a sad day in the history of the world. Our president is in violation of international principles," said the Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., pastor of Salvation Baptist Church in Brooklyn and executive director of New York-based Pastors for Peace.
In Olympia, Wash., hundreds of people flocked to a peace demonstration at the state Capitol as bombs began falling on Baghdad.
"It just was very shocking to realize we had really gone in," said Liz Wyruchowski, a 45-year-old school employee. "I'm opposed to using that level of force. I recognize Saddam Hussein is a dictator, but I don't think the solution is violence."
In downtown Seattle, 11 people participating in an anti-war protest were arrested when they refused to leave a mall at closing time.
In New Orleans, a basketball game between the New Orleans Hornets and the New York Knicks was stopped for a short period to allow the crowd to watch the president's address on big-screen TVs.
In San Diego, Suzanne Hoefler said she could only think of her husband, Navy Petty Officer John Hoefler, who left in January for the Arabian Gulf.
"I thought I was prepared for this, but I'm really not," she said.
For veterans of the first Gulf War, the news brought back vivid memories. Jeff McGill of Louisville, Ky., remembers the Arabian night set aglow by the synchronized launching of missiles from U.S. warships. And David Worley, also of Louisville, recalls the hungry and haggard Iraqi soldiers, shellshocked by weeks of bombing, surrendering in droves.