It hurts every time Scottsdale mom Shelly Dudley hears about a war protest.
Her son, Jason, is just miles from the Iraqi border, trained as a machine gunner. And Michael, another son, is stationed in California, begging his superiors to let him join his brother in the Middle East.
But as Shelly watches the growing antiwar movement, she worries that life will be worse for her two boys after a conflict with Iraq than on the front lines of a war.
"I lived through Vietnam," she said. "I am not going to let what happened in Vietnam happen to my sons, that they’re going to be ashamed to be in the military."
More young people who support the war should stand up and say so, Shelly said. Jason’s fiancee, 22-year-old Julie Sanborn, said she fully agrees with President Bush’s ultimatums to Iraq.
"I think if we continue to let people like Saddam do what they’re doing then none of us are safe," she said.
Julie also worries what will happen to U.S. troops when they return from Iraq.
"One of our fears is the mass of people do not distinguish between disliking the war and disliking the people who are fighting in the war," she said.
Even if most Americans support the war, Shelly said, "sometimes the vocal minority wins their way into history."
"What the American public doesn’t remember is there were antiwar protests prior to World War II," said Shelly, a historian. "The English people didn’t want to stop Hitler."
The Dudleys have a tradition in the military — 25-year-old Jason and 22-yearold Michael are the third generation of Dudley men to join the Marines.
Julie is preparing to join that tradition, though her wedding has seemed elusive the past few years. First, Jason was called back to active service after Sept. 11, 2001. Then, in January, days before he was due home, he found out that he faced yet another year of duty.
Julie never saw herself as a military wife, someone who waits for five-minute phone calls from a dusty camp near the Iraqi border. Camp Commando, the nearest to Jason, has been featured on the national news several times, she said, and she strains to see reassuring glimpses of Marines smiling.
Someday soon, Shelly could have a third son involved in the conflicts in the Middle East. A few years ago, son Benjamin logged onto www.birthrightisrael.com to learn more about the country and ways to visit it.
Now Benjamin, 21, is attending school at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The day after he arrived, the school’s cafeteria was bombed, killing seven people. Benjamin, who has "fallen in love with Israel," is considering joining the Israeli army, Shelly said.
"I’m afraid he might," she said. "I hope not. Let’s face it: The soldiers over there do get killed a lot."
So the Dudley family is left to wait and see how things play out in the Middle East. But as much as they watch the news abroad, they said, they’ll monitor the reactions at home.
"I think something needs to be done," said Gordon Dudley, Jason’s dad. "I hope it can be accomplished quickly. I don’t think the American people have the patience."