As Operation Desert Storm rages across the Persian Gulf, its emotional, economic and social fallout is reaching far behind the battle lines and affecting lives everywhere along the "home front."
While the most significant impact is on the families and friends of the 2,200 Utahns who are now in harm's way, the war has hit home for thousands of others as well.And not only as an image on a television screen, a newspaper headline or a topic of casual conversation. For many, it has become an inescapable part of life. It is demanding not only their attention, but their participation, if only in small ways.
For example, air passengers, airport security personnel, airline employees, baggage handlers and anyone else with business at the Salt Lake International Airport, are constantly reminded of the war by long lines and heightened security.
Lou Miller, the airport director, has devoted most of his time and energy to the implementation of the emergency Federal Aviation Administration rules and expects his personal involvement to continue indefinitely.
"Absolutely, as long as it's necessary," he said. Adding to his worries is the mounting cost of the security program. "We don't have all the numbers yet, but clearly it's going to be very expensive."
Not to mention inconvenient for travelers, although Miller said the traveling public appears to have understood and accepted the delays without too much grumbling.
Steve Gallenson's contact with the war has been through the sale of an increasing number of 9 mm pistols and high-quality sunglasses to service men and women preparing for duty in the gulf.
Not all of the military personnel are issued handguns, prompting some of them to pack their own trusty sidearms, Gallenson said. "I don't blame them," he adds.
Gallenson has also noticed that people appear to be "scarfing up" reloading components and some ammunition at his downtown store, apparently out of fear that those items might soon be in short supply.
The heavy military demand for ammo and gunpowder and a shift in production emphasis could very well affect retail prices and availability if the war continues for long, he said.
The Very Rev. Jack C. Potter, Dean of the Cathedral of St. Mark, says he can't recall any event of the past decade that has had a more powerful impact on him personally and those around him.
"It has filled me with a sense of depression, a sense - not of despair - but of personal conflict, of wanting to support the service men and women who are there, but wondering why we're there."
The war has not only touched the thoughts and prayers of religious leaders throughout the community, it has also affected their schedules and the way they perform their services.
At St. Mark, for example, Thursdays have been set aside as "Days of Peace," featuring a 7:30 a.m. service, silent time, meditation, noon Mass for peace and healing, afternoon prayer, a breaking of fast at 5:30 p.m., followed by a discussion of Mideast affairs.Congregations are responding, praying for peace. Dean Potter said he has not seen the likes of it since World War II.
Elden Robison's company, LAR Manufacturing, is putting extra time and effort into a rush order for Mark-19 grenade launcher and M-16 rifle components. The West Jordan firm can't be sure the parts it makes are destined for the Persian Gulf, but Robison thinks it's likely.
Other defense contractors in Utah - big and small - are either already contributing to the war effort or are poised to do so soon, putting thousands of local workers on the war assembly line.
Clay Peterson had the unenviable task of driving a Utah National Guard unit back to its assigned base in Colorado following an all too brief Christmas furlough.
A driver for Lewis Bros. Stages, Peterson said, "The closer we got to Colorado Springs, the quieter they got. The closer we got, the worse I felt."
Lewis Bros. has been transporting many of the mobilized reserve and guard units in the West, and Peterson said he and other drivers think of it as special duty.
"Many of us have gone through it ourselves," said Peterson, who served three years in the Navy during World War II. "We can relate to what they're feeling."
Scott Pope and other professionals in the mental health field are preparing to deal with the psychological and emotional impact of the Persian Gulf war on the home front.
Pope, program administrator at the Weber Mental Health Center, said the impact is beginning to manifest itself in a growing level of anxiety. "We believe some of those people may eventually experience depression if it wears on," he said.
To address potential problems, 11 community mental health centers throughout Utah have announced that they will work with the Utah National Guard to provide counseling and support for the families of service men and women as well as any other clients in need of assistance.
Pope said the Weber center has assigned a therapist who is also a veteran to deal with disorders directly related to the war. A Vietnam era specialist will be available to handle post traumatic stress disorders, he added. And a clinical social worker has volunteered her services.
Mark Slack, president of Morris Travel, is closely monitoring the war as it affects travel safety. Morris' 23 offices throughout the region and travel agents everywhere need to know which countries may pose a risk, he said.
"We feel a responsibility to share State Department information as we get it, such as warnings on various countries around the conflict that people should avoid."
Slack said people continue to travel in spite of the war. "They've just got a lot of questions," he said, adding, "We're working real hard to let people know it's still safe to travel."
Some other local travel agents are reporting that people are planning upcoming vacations closer to home. Travelers appear to be avoiding the Middle East and shying away from Europe while turning more toward Hawaii, Mexico and other destinations far from the conflict, several agents said.
Deanna Ehman wasn't renting as many videos as usual during the early days of the war, but business is picking up again and may actually increase as people begin to seek escape from the images of war.
Ehman, manager of Adventure-land Video, Centerville, said rentals at some stores dropped by about 25 percent last week. And she has noticed a curious phenomenon in recent days.
"We've had a lot of requests for war movies, World War II movies in particular. They tell me they want to see how it used to be done."
A lot of people are also requesting movies that take place in the Middle East, titles such as "Every Time I Say Goodbye," "The Wind and the Lion," and, of course, "Lawrence of Arabia."
Deseret News staff writers Joseph Bauman and Brent Israelsen also contributed to this article.