March 19, 2003: War in Iraq begins

Eleven years ago today, the U.S. launched the first strike against Iraq. The next day’s Herald announced the beginning of the Iraq war with this front page.

Up top, headlines tell of missiles firing into Baghdad and tanks lining up on the border. Just below, Saddam Hussein vows to win.

The “Key Developments” sidebar paints a similarly grim picture: 300,000 troops, 1,000 warplanes, casualties expected. Just below, the “Related Stories” were more of the same: waves of jets, explosions in Baghdad, the prospect of taking out Iraq’s electronic grid with a “secret ‘e-bomb.’”

The ominous, sepia-toned main image shows smoke rising in the night as cruise missiles fire from a Navy ship. Pictured below is a cautious George W. Bush, representing America and its allies, and an unwavering Saddam Hussein, desperately hanging on to the reins of his defiant regime.

Meanwhile in Everett, a service was held at the Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, home to a congregation that included about three dozen members of the military and their families. Those in attendance prayed for the safety of the troops and a peaceful resolution.

“I’m hoping there’s not many casualties,” parishioner DeEdra Manson says in the article. “I wish there could be none.”

The conflict would evolve into an eight-and-a-half year war that took the lives of nearly 4,500 Americans and perhaps upwards of half a million Iraqis.

Click here for a story from last year about how the war affected the lives of Everett locals. And here is a list of Washington’s Iraq War casualties.

Read more from The Herald’s March 20, 2003, issue and others in our collection of historic front pages.

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