View Full Version : Differing opinions don’t divide family

12-11-05, 07:08 AM
Differing opinions don’t divide family
By Marty Schladen
The Daily News

Published December 11, 2005
TEXAS CITY — As the war in Iraq grinds on and U.S. casualties mount, it is an increasingly difficult subject at home.

There is perhaps no one for whom it is more difficult than Beverly McKinney.

The Texas City barber has one son in the U.S. Marine Corps who has served one tour in Iraq and will return sometime in the coming year.

Her other son recently joined the Marines and leaves in January for his first tour.

And she will do everything she can to support them while they fight a war she has come to oppose.

McKinney is among a growing number of Americans who initially agreed with the American invasion of Iraq, but who have become disillusioned.

“I know there was a purpose when it started,” she said in a recent interview. “But I think it’s gone on too long.”

Which could put her in an excruciating position.

At least one of her sons, Staff Sgt. Jeromie Slaughter, wholeheartedly supports his mission in Iraq. So much so that he encouraged his younger brother, Lance Cpl. A.B. Messina, to enlist.

For Slaughter, the war in Iraq is part of the broader fight against terrorism.

“If the American people don’t want to have a presence in the Middle East or overseas, they can look at 9/11 all over again,” Slaughter said with conviction.

Such disagreement on an issue so vital to both mother and son could cause tense times when the two are together.

But it doesn’t, they say.

“We talk about it pretty openly,” McKinney said. “I don’t think there’s any friction at all.”

For Slaughter, his personal relationship with his mother matters more than her views on national security.

“As long as she supports what I’m doing, I’m fine with it,” he said.

McKinney said: “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Unlike those during the Vietnam War, most protests of the Iraq war have been careful not to demonize the troops fighting it.

That is important both to Slaughter and his mother.

McKinney, who cuts hair in a Texas City barbershop, has a unique window on public opinion.

She said that a critical mass of her customers have also lost their enthusiasm for the war. But she said that just about everyone supports the troops and appreciates their service.

Early on, most people were gung-ho, but not all of them.

McKinney said it was particularly painful to her when someone would say that if he or she had a child in the armed services, that child would go to Canada or Mexico to avoid service in Iraq.

“The reason they were able to say it is because my kids are over there fighting,” McKinney said.

But it wasn’t anything anybody said that changed her mind about the war, McKinney said. That came in September 2004, when Slaughter returned home.

“I think it changed when he came back, and I saw the changes it made in him,” she said.