News / USA

Watertown, New York Welcomes Troop Withdrawal Announcement

Statues on Watertown, New York's town square speak of honor, country, and wars fought in the past
Statues on Watertown, New York's town square speak of honor, country, and wars fought in the past

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

As President Obama announces his plan to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, military communities around the country welcome the news.  Watertown, New York, is near Fort Drum, home of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, which has been in constant deployment during the past decade. 

The walls of the American Legion Hall in Watertown, New York, are adorned with photographs of local men and women who have served their country during war.  Many paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Phil Gary served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.  He said he is in favor of President Obama's plan to start withdrawing thousands of troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.  Many of those troops are from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, stationed nearby at Fort Drum.

“No matter what time in the world it is or what year in the world it is, there is always going to be a conflict," Gary said.  "I believe they are always going to ask for help, along with the United Nations and other countries so, are you asking me if I agree with it?  Yes, because I believe in our president and he directed it.”

That sense of duty is not uncommon in this part of the country.  Watertown is a small industrial city along the Black River, where conservative values run strong, and there is a long history of military service.  Statues on the town square speak of honor, country, and wars fought in the past.  

That tradition has been shouldered by the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division.  Many live in Watertown.  They were among the first units to go to Afghanistan.  Some soldiers have served  three deployments in the past decade.  Watertown Mayor Jeffrey Graham says both the Afghan and Iraq wars have been hard on the community.

“I think that most people, not just Watertown because we have a military presence here, but most people in this country are really getting fatigued by these constant wars," he said.  "It is perpetual war.  And the casualties, the expense, the deployments.  I think people would just like to see an end to it.”

Michael Oquendo, Adonis Frias Rodriquez, and Lewis Paulino are active duty Fort Drum soldiers, who live in a small community just outside the base.  They returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan two months ago.  They hold different views on the troop pullout, but they say that is not uncommon within the military.  Michael Oquendo says the pullout is a bad idea.

“At some point I think we should stay, because we have achieved a lot," he said.  "And by us pulling out right now like that, and leaving everything like it is.  It is not a good idea because the U.S. is making stuff happen there.  Connecting the villages, connecting everything together.  Making the country come together.”

Lewis Paulino disagrees.  He says the United States has too many problems at home.

“We have got so many problems here,." he said.  "I think it is more important than take care of problems from another country ... here we have got a lot of stuff to do.”

But all three young soldiers say that if called upon, they would deploy again.  Because that is what soldiers do, they say, serve with honor.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid