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Listening to Bush at the American Legion

In Oneco, Fla., Sheila Cobb watched the president's speech as only a mother, still grieving, could. Her only son was killed in Iraq. NBC's Bob Faw reports how members of one American Legion post reacted to President Bush's speech.
/ Source: NBC News

Sheila Cobb watched the president's speech as only a mother, still grieving, could. Her only son, 19-year-old Marine Corps Pfc. Christopher Cobb, was killed in Iraq. She wanted to embrace the president's new plan; she could not.

"I don't think they need to send any more over there," she says. "I think they need to get it done, and get them out."

The American Legion post where Chris Cobb once played now bears his name. His death colors what many members think of the president's new plan.

"Let them kill each other," says Tammy Statler. "Save us the time. Bring our kids home. Our kids don't need to be dying for someone who doesn't want them there."

But for many here who wore the uniform, especially those chastened by Vietnam, the notion of cutting and running is anathema.

"He's our commander in chief," says Andrew Walkinshaw. "He's the leader of our country. We have to stand behind him. I'm behind him."

In nearby Bradenton, even a stained-glass artist, who never voted for Bush, and who has erected a memorial for local soldiers killed in Iraq, even he is inclined to give the president more time.

"You got to finish it," says Bill Johnson. "As much as I don't like the president, you got to finish it."

On Main Street, though, patience like that is not widespread. In one recent poll taken before the speech, six people in 10 said the war isn't worth fighting.

Dan Green, who taught Chris Cobb at Bayshore High School, found the president's speech did not win over high school seniors.

"Nothing's going to be resolved," says senior Jessica Brown. "It's all just going to keep going on."

It's a war weariness also felt by the mother of a fallen solder.

"When my son died, there was over 800," says Sheila Cobb. "Now it's over 3,000. And it's going to keep going on and on and on."

At this American Legion post Wednesday night, they were listening hard, wanting to believe, but still wondering.