As the sun rose over Iraq the morning of March 20, 2003, cruise missiles struck Baghdad in an attempt to launch a "decapitation attack" targeting then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
President George W. Bush called it an "attack of opportunity" from America and its coalition forces.
Now, four years later, students voice their opinions on the Iraq War – whether in opposition, support or uncertainty.
Information systems technology sophomore Terrell D. Jackson, a Navy veteran, said that he wants the U.S. to pull the troops out of Iraq, but not all at once.
"Don’t pull them out very fast – pull them out at the effective rate it takes to know that Iraq isn’t just falling on itself," he said.
Finance junior Chris Cortez said bringing soldiers back would be beneficial in many ways.
"If the troops did come home, it would be good for the economy since more people would be back to work," Cortez said. "A steady withdrawal of the troops, rather than leaving all at once, makes more sense."
Jackson said U.S. involvement in Iraq is only widening a gap between Sunni and Shiite muslims.
"By continuing to be there, we’re adding insult to injury," he said. "There’s some imperialism in that."
More than 3,700 U.S. troops have died in the conflict and over 27,800 have been wounded, the Washington Post reported, and anywhere from 72,000 to 79,000 Iraqi civilians have also died.
"They are fighting something that is out of our control. I wish our troops were back home now," 2001 UH alumna Dina Kachornvanich said.
Computer science senior Ali Muhammad said that the American public will never get an honest answer about the troops’ presence in Iraq.
"I don’t think (the war) is necessary at all, and I don’t think that the president is being completely honest with the American people as to why we sent troops there," Muhammad said. "I think the troops should come back soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed. All I keep hearing in the news are troops getting extended tours."
While the duration of the troops’ stay is the concern for many students, for communication senior Julie Ramos worries of the war are much more personal.
In December 2006, Ramos married UH student and Marine Lance Cpl. Alex Ramos, who is deployed to Iraq and scheduled to return home in early summer 2008.
"The hardest thing about him being away is that we promised to be life partners, and now I’m having to do life without him. I want him here to talk about my new job, cook and watch movies with. It’s also really hard to sleep without him," Ramos said.
Although she wants her husband home, Ramos said she is unsure of what the right decision is regarding America’s involvement with Iraq.
"The war is tricky because it’s ideological more than physical. I didn’t think we should have gone in the first place, but now I wonder if years down the road we would have looked back and wondered why we didn’t intervene," she said.
However, Ramos said that it is important to support the troops – no matter your opinion.
"Regardless of whether people support the war, I think they should support the troops," she said. "That might seem contradictory to some people, but they have no idea how much they sacrifice for freedoms that we often take for granted."
Many students’ ideals have swayed, as former supporters of the war now wonder why the U.S. got involved in the first place.
As a Navy sailor, Jackson originally favored the war. Now he looks at the war in a different light.
"I realized later on that the war was wrong, but at first I was all for it. I wasn’t viewing the war from a soldier’s standpoint; I viewed it from a sailor’s standpoint. I thought we could use our air power and then send in our Marines and our ground forces to clean up," Jackson said. "I thought Saddam was really the enemy – I thought he was the threat."
Kachornvanich supported the war in the beginning because she believed in the cause behind it.
"I felt once the Iraqi dictatorship was overthrown the Iraqi government eventually would take steps to develop a democracy and survive on their own," she said. "Now, I feel our troops are putting their lives on the line for a completely different purpose."