How the War "Plays in Peoria"

March 25, 2003

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On March 25, 2003 The Baltimore Sun reported that "stop and chat with Anthony Romanus as he tends to his suburban garden and you'll realize, if you don't already, that the conflicting opinions can take place in a single soul as well - in this case that of a man who knew only a few English words when he came here from the Middle East at 21 and worked his way up from $5 a week as a shoe repairman to the board of directors of a bank and insurance company... He is one of more than 5,000 residents of Peoria [IL] - often viewed as the epitome of the heartland - whose roots go back to the same small mountainside village in Lebanon, a country familiar with the ravages of war... 'This is going to be the worst war we've ever had,' says Romanus, 87, whose life has been affected by several. 'There's no reason for it.' The next second he adds, 'I'm not that big to say whether it is the right thing. It's no time to criticize. Nobody did that to Roosevelt. It's time to stand behind the president...' How the war 'plays in Peoria' - to use the cliche that originated in the days of vaudeville - depends on where you go in this economically strapped rust belt city of 113,000, a place that, while a symbol of mainstream middle America, has quietly, peacefully and successfully absorbed almost an entire Middle Eastern village over the past 100 years."