Even before dawn, diners and fast-food places near Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County became centers for heavy discussions.
Opinions differed, but the talk was the same -- war.
Soldiers and other patrons sat in booths talking in subdued, often somber, voices about the United States' attack on Iraq.
Almost everyone had an opinion, but not everyone was ready to voice it openly.
Several soldiers stationed at Fort Meade who were asked to comment on last night's U.S. bombing runs declined to do so. Each of them said he preferred to keep his opinions to himself.
One APG soldier was willing to speak, but he was not willing to identify himself. As he and a companion sat in a traffic jam caused by heightened security at APG, he said of the operation, "I'm excited to go, but a little bit apprehensive. I was relieved that they started it off. I think they tried all the diplomatic things they could."
The two soldiers had a portable television perched on the --board of the car to watch early morning news reports.
While GIs may not have been anxious to talk, civilians who live, work, or frequent the eating places near APG and Fort Meade had plenty to say.
"It was about time somebody did something about it," Andrew J. Pawlack Jr., who manages the High's store at Severn Square, directly across from Fort Meade, said of the Operation Desert Storm. "I don't feel we should be over there," Pawlack said. "But somebody had to do it. Who knows what he's [Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein] going to do next."
Pawlack, who lives within five minutes of Meade, said he is concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks in the United States.
"I don't doubt that before this thing is over, there will be some sort of terrorist attack," he said. "I think it's inevitable. That's why we've got to nip this thing in the bud."
Arthur Poole, 62, a civilian worker at APG and an Army veteran said, "I endorse what the commander-in-chief has done. We're doing something that no other country was willing to do."
At the same time, Poole expressed sorrow about the victims of war.
"I feel very sorry for the poor Iraqi soldiers, the green soldiers," he said. "All of the mothers around the world are praying."
Tony Keyes, 33, an Aberdeen resident who delivers heating oil and gas for a living, was sipping coffee at a diner. He said he expects immediate jumps in the price of gasoline.
"I can't imagine what it's going to be now," he said. "Before it's over, I bet you it will be $2 a gallon."
Keyes, whose 20-year-old brother is an Air Force pilot, said, "I'm worried about him. I wish they'd get it done and get back."