The events of the Iraqi election on Sunday, Jan. 30 have left me more humbled than ever before. I know when I go to vote in my country, there will be no one trying to kill me as I walk into my voting station, bombing my car or kidnapping my family.
If you are unaware of the significance that took place Jan. 30 in the country of Iraq, please do yourself a favor and tune in somewhere to learn about it. The news channels, Internet sites and newspaper are full of the events. Some had different versions, but in the end the outcome was the same; people were able to vote freely.
There are more than 90,000 expatriate Iraqis living in the United States and only six voting stations. Many Iraqis traveled five, six or more hours just for the opportunity to vote. They were the ones who fled the regime and left businesses, homes and family in Iraq. Some said they would have driven further if they had to.
We have men and women fighting for the freedom of the Iraqi people while at the same time fighting to stay alive. The turnout for the Iraqi vote was larger and the violence was lower than expected. The majority of people turning out to vote were women. Most had never had the opportunity to vote and the joy on their faces said it all: this was a day of great victory. One 94-year-old woman was wheeled in the polling location in a wheel barrow so she could vote.
Another 56-year-old widow and mother of one daughter had only voted twice in her lifetime. Both times she was forced to vote for the only name on the ballot, Sadam Hussein, but this time she came out of the polling station with a smile and said, “I will not tell you who I voted for because I do not have to now. This is great victory!”
Although the amount of violence was lower than expected, it was still present. The bombing near the American Embassy in Baghdad left one American soldier dead Saturday and another earlier that day. The voting had already begun while it was still Saturday here and I had to ask myself what I was doing when the soldiers were killed.
Yes, war is horrible and I wish I could make it all go away but I cannot. I can only grieve for those who have lost loved ones, speak my mind in the free press and get mad at why we are there. But in the end, it won’t change anything. I don’t like it that American soldiers are there but I support them. Look at what they’ve helped to accomplish: people singing, dancing and crying in joy over the opportunity to vote!
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© The Voice, 2005
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