BAKERSFIELD, CA - Even though it's been ten years since the fighting started in Iraq, the effects of the war are still felt every day by scores of families here in Kern County.
While former President George W. Bush was announcing the U.S. invasion in Iraq a decade ago, Iraq War veteran, Wesley Barrientos was there that first day.
"For me, it was worth every second I was there. I saw potential in that place. I saw that I had put too much work into that place and I would have rather died then see that place fall," said Barrientos of his service there.
Barrientos was one of the 800 Americans who lost limbs in the war. And, Clay Farr was one of 20 service members with ties to Kern County, to lose his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed by a roadside bomb. His dad, Patrick, says he thinks about his son every day. But, on the 10th anniversary, he has no regrets.
"I couldn't have any animosity towards any policy the U.S. Government has that placed us in that position to be in the war, whether it was right or wrong. Clay believed it was right and I believed it was right and that's the way I live out the rest of my life," said Patrick Farr.
While no atomic weapons were ever found, Saddam Hussein was removed from power.
"Just the thought of a protest could get them killed and we gave them that freedom," said Barrientos.
"I think we have to always defend what we know is right," said Bakersfield resident, Sandi Flint who feels the effort was worth it.
But, others here argue Iraqi's freedoms are limited and it's only a matter of time before evil will reign supreme.
"All they have to do is kick back and rest for a year or two. The United States moved out. They go back in and take charge again," said Bakersfield resident, Richard Lewis.
Bakersfield resident, Daryl Larson, shared a similar view saying he doesn't think the U.S. should have invaded Iraq at all.
"No. But, I'm not a politician. I sit back like a lot of people, and I'm hoping our country does the right thing by us," said Larson.
County veterans service director, Dick Taylor, says many Iraq veterans now suffer from traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.
"The numbers are staggering," said Taylor.
Taylor believes only time will tell if what the Allied troops accomplished in Iraq will outweigh the lasting effects.
"Sometimes it takes a long, long time for the analysis of what happened, just like in Vietnam and World War II and Korea, as to whether or not it was worth it or not," said Taylor.