By AMY LINDBLOM, ERIN MAYES and CLAIRE ST. JOHN
As in the rest of the world, Tuolumne and Calaveras county residents are divided in their feelings about the United States' imminent war with Iraq, likely to begin in the next few days.
Emotions run the gamut from relieved to horrified. Some think President Bush is doing the right thing, while others accuse him of being a megalomaniac with an ax to grind.
Tami Anderson of Sonora, who has a son and stepson in the military in the Middle East, said the world will be a better place with the Iraqi leader gone.
"I believe that Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction. I believe that the Iraqi people are good people, and I don't think the world is going to be a safe place until he's gone."
On the other hand, Columbia College instructor Jim Toner called President Bush's plan "tragic, savage, unbelievable, primitive."
Toner, who organized a peace march that drew more than 1,000 demonstrators to Courthouse Square in Sonora on Feb. 15, said "it's a huge failing of America as represented by George Bush's decision."
Toner, who said he was sickened by Bush's Monday night speech handing down an ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, fears what war means for the world, and what will come after.
"In the name of rooting out terror, I think (Bush) is creating terror," Toner said. "Who knows what we're unleashing now?"
Many people say they want the war over with quickly especially Korine Harte, 33, of Columbia. Her husband served in the Gulf War.
"While I don't agree with the need for the war, I do support our troops and pray for them all the time," Hart said. "Let's just go and do it and finish it, like we should have done during Desert Storm."
For people who have sent their sons, daughters, spouses and relatives into conflict, there is worry, fear and admiration.