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We are preparing for war on all levels

I've tried for the past few days to rally my own troops, the Star-News staff into war mode. For all of us, this is our first go at covering a war. Although all of us were working at newspapers during the September 11 terrorist attacks, none of us have actual experience working in a newsroom during wartime. It's a new experience for us.

When the first gulf war was fought, I was still in high school. One of the staff was a new mother, two were in college and one, well, she was only 6-years-old.

It's a scary thing for us. I'm doing my best to guide my troops through this physically and mentally draining time. We've been waging our own battle for the past few months - Progress - of which you will get to see in the March 29 edition. But now, with a very real and necessary war about to happen, the Star-News staff has once again had an added workload placed upon. It is however, a workload we are prepared to meet.

To help provide our readers with the best possible coverage of the war in Iraq, we are adding special features, including wire service from the United Nations, updates from the Department of Defense and each branch of the military.

We are in constant contact with Eglin Air Force Base, NAS Pensacola, Fort Rucker and Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base.

We will also do our best to provide information on local soldiers fighting to defend our freedom, and the freedom of so many others. To accomplish this, we need your help. If you know of a local soldier in the Middle East, please let us know. If you are a veteran of the first gulf war, please contact us. You have first-hand knowledge of some of the conditions our troops can expect to encounter. We invite you to share that knowledge with us and our readers.

In the coming days, none of us really know what to expect - it is the great uncertainty that is war. However, we can rest assured in the knowledge that our leaders will do everything possible to guarantee a swift and decisive victory.

We must remember though, with that uncertainty comes detractors. We want to hear from you as well. We want to know why you are opposed to the war.

As you have probably garnered from previous local columnists' opinions and staff-generated editorials, the Star-News has taken what could be considered a pro-war stance.

That is not necessarily the case. We have decided to take a pro-soldier stance. Although very few of us are old enough to remember Vietnam, and the horror those soldiers had to endure upon their return home, we read about in our history classes and from talking to our fathers, uncles, grandfathers and the like.

We do, however, remember the jubilation when our soldiers returned home from Operation Desert Storm. It was a well-deserved celebration. Andalusia even threw a gigantic parade to celebrate our victory - and to remember our own fallen local hero - such as John Wesley Hutto.

Let us hope that when our soldiers return home this time, we can again throw them a victory parade, only this time without having to pay remembrance to a fallen hero.

And support the war or not, we all must support our soldiers. They are the ones willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Jeffery Biggs is the editor of the

Andalusia Star-News. He can be reached at editor@andalusiastarnews,

or 222-2402, ext. 336.