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Some War Widows Oppose Sheehan

While Cindy Sheehan continues her anti-war protests outside of President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, there are many others personally affected by the fighting in Iraq who support the president and the war.

CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan spoke with widows at Fort Hood, Texas, who have seen a side of President Bush rarely seen in public.

It's true that Mr. Bush doesn't attend the funerals of those he sends to war, Cowan observes. It's also true the administration would prefer if cameras were not around when the fallen come home in caskets.

But for hundreds of soldier's families, the president isn't necessarily a man who turns a deaf ear to the war's grief and frustration.

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When Staff Sgt. Robert Thornton died in Baghdad's Al Rashid district, Mr. Bush met with his young widow, one on one, during a visit to Fort Hood.

"He's very sincere, he's very caring and very compassionate," Ellen Thornton says. "You can tell that he struggles every day with the loss of life."

Mr. Bush's meetings with families of troops killed in war are private moments, Cowan says. The press is never allowed, and the meetings are brief.

Inge Colton took her son, Lance, hoping the president would apologize to him for the loss of his father, Shane Colton.

He did.

"I'm not going to say it helped about how I felt about losing my husband," Inge Colton says. "It didn't. But it helped me know that he cared."

Linnie Blankenbecler took her daughter into the makeshift grieving room that same day, and was surprised at the reaction she got: "He's very touchy. He hugs. He hugged me. He hugged my daughter, and he cried. He cried for my husband, too."

The president's one-on-one meetings at Fort Hood lasted for more than three hours that day. He met with more than 30 families.

And whatever it might have meant, certainly something different for each family, Cowan says, there's one thing that almost all of them agree on: that the resolute politician in public is very different in private.

Says Ellen Holton: "I just looked at him, and I'd already been crying. And he just came over and he gave me a big hug and he kissed me on both cheeks, and he was crying at the same time. He's like, 'I'm so sorry. I just I cannot believe this.' "

Added Inge Colton, "He told me he was sorry for my loss, and we talked about Shane, and he made a comment what a good-looking guy he was."

"I do not at all feel that he is at fault for the death of my husband," says Blankenbecler.

And, Cowan says, it is a common emotion that has all three shaking their heads at how Cindy Sheehan is dealing with grief over the loss of her son, by protesting the war in front of the president's ranch.

Speaking of a cross in a field of hundreds honoring Iraq war dead, Blankenbecler told Cowan, "When she put that cross up, with my husband's name on it, that's when she crossed the line."

Their husbands, they say, would never have protested the war, even if, in those most private of private moments, Mr. Bush may seem to have his doubts.

"He's conflicted because, ya know, he's doing the right thing but then, also, he's got all these loss of lives, which you're going to have if you go to war," Thornton says. "But, being the kind of person he is, that weighs on his mind."

Pride and pain, Cowan says, weighs on everyone's mind, no matter how they choose to express it.

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