Monday, June 21, 2004

Between sips on an iced mocha at Shockoe Espresso & Roastery last week, Smith recalled a few harrowing moments in Iraq but said he still supports President Bush's decision to go to war.

"I left feeling very satisfied and proud I served as a small part of the CPA," he said.

Smith said the front-page and TV news images of violence in Iraq are every bit as awful as they appear but are separated by "hours and days" of advancements.

"We are making everyday forward gains," he said. "Those random acts of violence are not the true reaction of the Iraqi people."

Smith views the violence more as a reflection of the strength of terrorists in the Middle East than asmistakes made in the Bush administration strategy.

"We need to be there," he said, "because terrorism is a threat to our generation."...

He said he felt a great sense of accomplishment planning a national conference of Iraqi fire officials. He said last month's conference showed Iraqis of all political and ethnic backgrounds working together with a shared vision.

"That was sort of a capstone moment for me because that's what we were working for," he said. "We looked to the Iraqis and said, 'The next chapter is yours to write.'"

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