- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

Stacey Lewis, a bartender at Chick Hall's Surf Club, spent half her time yesterday serving bottles of beer and the other half discussing with her customers the headlines scrolling across the bottom of Fox News Channel.
Competing with the occasional tune floating from the jukebox and the sound of pool balls slamming into one another, she broke the news to several patrons of the Bladensburg bar that ricin, a deadly poison that terrorists were expected to use in response to an invasion of Iraq, was found in a Paris train station.
"Let's see what the French do now," hollered one man, who was among the dozen or so sitting around the bar with an American flag hanging over the stage and a house band known to play the national anthem in times of U.S. trial.
The crowd at the bar was decidedly supportive of President Bush and his order to have U.S. forces invade Iraq.
Adam Shirk, a Prince George's County resident who could spend a couple hours at the bar because his workday was rained out, served in 1991 aboard the USS Constellation the same ship now deployed in the Middle East. He was optimistic about the war, saying it will be over in a week and that he doubts any U.S. troops will be harmed.
The troops "are over there, but they're safe," the 31-year-old Mr. Shirk said, adding that he would tell families of service members that "it's not as bad as you think."
He and a few others took a Tasty Stacey shot, a fruity mix of several liquors and juices, dedicating it "to the troops."
Sitting around the bar lighted only by dim track lights and a couple neon beer signs, Mr. Shirk recalled the gigantic dimensions and advanced weapons of the aircraft carrier. He said the U.S. government has even more advanced weapons and better intelligence now than during the 1991 strike, making him confident Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, and his sons will be removed from power.
Joe Holcombe, 55, sat at the opposite side of the bar. He agreed with Mr. Bush's strategy of going directly at the place Saddam was reportedly staying Wednesday night and continuing attacks until he is gone. Despite continuing anti-war demonstrations, he said the president is right in taking a stand.
"That's what leaders do: They stand up and lead the people," he said. "Then, the people follow."
Mr. Holcombe hopes the war is over soon but said he will continue to support the president even if the attacks continue for a long time.
"It doesn't matter how long it goes on," he said. "It needs to continue until the job is done."
Miss Lewis, the 24-year-old bartender, said fear of domestic terrorist attacks shouldn't keep Americans from living their everyday lives and definitely is no reason for leaders to reconsider continual bombing in Iraq.
"I always think about it, especially having a young daughter," she said. "Hopefully, we're in this situations so it doesn't happen again."

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