Locals watch NFL, not Bush | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Locals watch NFL, not Bush

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

President Bush’s update on Operation Iraqi Freedom took a back seat in South Lake Tahoe to Sunday night football on ESPN.

People at sports bars from the “Y” to Kingsbury Grade were either unaware of the address or didn’t turn it on because patrons seemed more interested in the opening weekend of the NFL. The sports network aired the Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans.

And the lack of exposure to Bush wasn’t just a bar thing.

Locals with a vested interest in military affairs didn’t miss the kickoff — whether they knew Bush addressed the nation or not.

Billie and Ray Bridges’ grandson, Luke Phippen, was deployed to the area more than a year ago with the Navy. The South Lake Tahoe couple believes he’d understand their allegiance to his safety as well as to the gridiron.

“Are you kidding? I’m a big football fan. He’d understand,” she said. “My kids know not to call me on Monday night.”

The Sunday night game was not without patriotism. Steamers’ Bar and Grill customers watched as the flag was rolled out to pay tribute to American soldiers who died on the mission.

On another television at the bar, Bush asked Congress for another $87 billion in resources for restoration efforts and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the danger had not passed and pledged to continue the efforts for the Iraqi people.

“We can’t even take care of anybody’s needs in America,” Wendy Jones said, while seated at the Steamers’ bar next to Robin Westinghouse.

The two South Lake Tahoe women said they’ve already lost their patience with the Middle Eastern occupation, fearing a longer stay will mean an escalation of American lives claimed.

“We’re like a little ball (of yarn) over there and our threads have become too thin,” Westinghouse said.

Even Jones’ son brought home the issue of how many American lives would be lost before the conflict ends.

“He asked me: ‘Mom, does it seem like more people have died since the war has been over?’ This came from a 13-year-old,” she said.

American Legion Post Cmdr. Curt Emrie expressed a similar sentiment, sharing concern about the number of U.S. soldiers dying overseas.

He called for involvement from other nations so the United States does not shoulder the burden alone.

“We need their help. If we don’t get it, we could have another fiasco (like Vietnam) on our hands,” Emrie said.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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