Seniors Forgo Tv, But Not Their Opinions, On Gulf War

January 24, 1991|By Jill L. Zarend | Jill L. Zarend,Staff writer

The television sat dark and silent at Pascal Senior Center the day after America went to war.

Some said lack of interest kept the seniors from joining the rest of the country in front of their sets or radios. Others said too much noise at the Glen Burnie center kept them from hearing the news.

"I don't think they want to see," 89-year-old Margaret Engle said. "I think they have feelings. There is not a person in this buildingwho isn't a church-goer. I know they must care."

Groups of three and four people sat around tables chatting about everything from whypizza is good or bad for you to upcoming programs at the center. Others played checkers or cards.

Most men at the center said they believe President George Bush acted wisely in attacking Iraq last week, while women said they feel things could have been worked out diplomatically.

This war, Engle said, is "uncalled for."

"If war started because of oil, they could have made some kind of management, some way to straighten it out. I was born a Christian, and I believe in the Bible, 'Thou shalt not kill.' "

"It is a very sad thing," she added, "especially when you see mothers on TV with babies. I've been shaking and all when I watch TV."

Engle, a long-time resident of Glen Burnie, has lived through five wars. Her two sons served in Vietnam, and now two grandsons are in Saudi Arabia.

"I thank God that theLord brought back to me my two sons (from Vietnam.) They all came back."

Not everyone, she recalled, was so fortunate.

"A friend ofmine told me to go out to see what was wrong with a woman in our church," she said. "She killed herself. She got a message from the Army her only son was killed. She just layed down under her car and died."

Jim Hogan of Severn sat alone Thursday facing the turned-off television screen. He's known war -- it touched his life four times.

As a 12-year-old Boy Scout During World War I, Hogan played drums in aband that sold War Bonds to onlookers. In World War II, he was an infantryman, storming up and down the hills of Europe, including seeingaction at Anzio Beach near Rome.

"I carried a rifle. But got no injury out of it. Only my hearing suffered," he said, pointing to his hearing aid. "It was an experience I wouldn't want anyone to go through."

His son, recently retired, served in intelligence in Vietnam. Hogan's daughter-in-law is a reservist and was recently placed on active duty.

The war in the Persian Gulf, he believes, was inevitable. "It was the only thing (President Bush) could do," said Hogan. "Hussein defied everyone. He gassed his own people. He is worse than Hitler."

Christine Saller, 71, of Glen Burnie, sat with a group of women who had to be prodded into discussing current events and the war.

Saller was eating dinner Wednesday night when she learned the warhad begun. "It was thundering and lightning out," she said. "It sounded like war. God works in mysterious ways."

A concerned look cameover her face. She said she doesn't feel safe, even in America.

"I still don't know what this is all about," she said, leaning forward. "I'm scared. If they come this way, we have no shelter. I wouldn't know what to do. Things have been too secretive to us."

Watching television hasn't helped curb her fears.

"It's gotten me confused. (Television journalist) Dan Rather says it won't be long (the war). Now it's changed. It's going to be long and drawn-out, and I just don't know what to think," she said.

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