Knoxville News Sentinel - Lola Alapo
ALCOA - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander cheered troops at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base Thursday, encouraging them that the United States is completely behind those who are fighting for the country.
"I'm here to show my respect for you," Alexander said. "We want to properly support the men and women who wear the uniform."
Alexander also said that since he began his job in Washington, he has had the opportunity to see first-hand how the decision about the war was being made. The president and his advisers planning military strategy that would affect the soldiers were taking their job seriously.
"The men and women making decisions with your lives are very good people," Alexander said. "I feel better knowing that they are there."
Alexander conveyed that he thought the president is right in moving to disarm Saddam and that the troops might be called upon to be part of that process.
"I'm absolutely convinced that if the president should ask you to be part of the conflict, I know the people of the U.S. will be behind you," Alexander said.
Alexander said that although he realized that this is a serious time for Americans, something had to be done before the United States was attacked.
"This is not an easy thing," he said. "I hope we don't have a war. But we have to disarm Saddam Hussein.
"The president is on a certain path to disarm Saddam if Saddam Hussein doesn't disarm himself.
"I was born just as World War II was starting. I think the feeling today is more like how 1939 and 1940 must have been."
For Patrick LaDue, 39, a master sergeant on the base, Alexander's words were the inspiration he would need when the time comes to go to battle.
"When you're there (on the field) and stuck, you don't get pep talks," he said. "I'll think back to the talk with Lamar" and he said it would give him "strength and fortitude."