30 January 2005
I was awoke this morning to the sounds of explosions throughout the city and steeled myself for a day of possible heavy fighting. As it turned out, this was in no wise the case. We went out on patrol to check on the elections and the voters and ensure that everyone was safe. The Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army did an outstanding job and my heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of them, who, as you very well may know, run an incredible risk even calling themselves a policeman or a soldier. Their respect, vigilance and adherence to strict protocols in the search of all voters was in large part a contributing factor in the day's success. I think that without them, this whole day could not have been as successful as it was.
As we were on patrol, an old woman, maybe 70 or 80 years old, came up to me and in broken English, with a slight German tinge to the accent, said, “Everything is going to be alright”. I will never forget those steel blue eyes as they were filled with tears. I imagine that she remembers the days when Iraq was free before Saddam and it is now 50 years later that free elections have been able to be held. It touched me deeply to know that many of the people felt this way today and it made the entire time here well worth the emotional roller coaster many of us have dealt with. Have we eradicated the entire insurgent regime? No, we have not, however, this country, in light of today's events, has shown that it is now ready to join the ranks of the free and to become a country of its own whose people are not afraid of the Fedayeen, the Republican Guard, Iraqi Intelligence or the Police. They will no longer be afraid of the terror formerly meted out by the previous regime. Today is the start of a future that hopefully will not be tainted by much more violence. The violence is sure to ensue, if even for a while, however, the PEOPLE took a stand today against the insurgents, against Zarqawi, against Saddam and his Ba'ath Party, and in one shrill voice shouted “We are free to choose”.
Just since the past couple of days the attitudes of the people have turned nearly 180 degrees. Today there was a joyous air among the majority, cheering, singing, children playing in the streets; not the various glares and insults occasionally shouted, but many “Thank yous”. Today made my heart glad, for men like Babbitt, Burke, Odoms and the 1400 others who have made the ultimate sacrifice have not done so in vain. Their sacrifice and the sacrifices of so many others, including 36 civilians (not counting the 8 bombers), who died today to voice their choice. They too have made a difference and have shown that they will be bullied no longer.
I thank each and every American who has stood behind the soldiers and made much of this possible, not only morally, but even some financially. God bless each and every one of you.
Continue to remember the service men and women still here and on their way, as dark days still are ahead, but now there seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel. At that end, may American and Iraqi alike walk through hand in hand as friend, not foe. To my friends here; all the Shahd's and Asala's, the Ra'ad's, Stevo's, Willie's, Ali's, and many many more, never forget the sacrifices made by so many. Remember the fallen and never take for granted what you have been given. Good night.