Elections Competed—Enemy Chagrined
In the days following the elections, the insurgency seemed to take a step back and cease attacks on Americans and Iraqis alike. This however, was not to last. Two days after the elections, attacks stepped up again. Bombs, ambushes, and general mayhem seemed to mar the successes of the days previous. Roadside bombs began to happen nearly every day against American patrols and against Iraqi Army soldiers. Many were wounded in these days, however, the resolve to take the fight to the enemy remained in our hearts. We did not stand idly by and watch these events unfold without taking action in an attempt to stop it. One of the most difficult things for me to find out and eventually see the results of, was a cowardly attack against children in the early weeks of February. One Friday afternoon, some children were playing in their neighborhood when they found a large suitcase laying in the middle of their housing area, not 30 feet from a elementary school and church. As curious children will do, they opened the bag and it exploded, killing one small boy and injuring two others. We went by the site a couple of days after it happened, and the shoes of the one who died, still lay in the place where he fell, as a silent reminder of the small life that was taken by a group of cowards afraid to attack an armed patrol. The reasoning behind this attack is still unknown, as the area in which it happened normally was quiet, with just a few incidents happening in the months prior. The neighborhood is primarily Christian in denomination, with the general populace being mostly aloof as to the American soldiers. Most of them were distantly friendly, and did not make overt conversations with us as they were afraid of being targeted, which we understood, for every Christian church in our sector was attacked at least once throughout the year. We visited the two boys who were injured, about a week after the attack, to see into their welfare. As a soldier, some feelings are numbed by the sights that we saw, however, when our medic took the boy's bandages off of his hand to clean it and re-dress the wound, it tore at my heart to see this 9 year old child, minus one finger and with massive damage to the rest of his hand and a large portion of his arm. The very cowardice of this attack was senseless. As in most situations, however, there nearly always seems to be a silver lining. We had several men approach us and ask us how they could join the FPS (security guards for selected sites), the IPs (Iraqi Police), and the Iraqi Army. Their reasoning behind asking was that they saw this and finally realized that they MUST do something to prevent this from ever happening again. We gladly gave them the information that they requested and I sincerely hope that they follow up on their desire to help their country and their families.
Attacks continued throughout our last month and never seemed to let up. We began to tire of the attacks. On several occasions, I informed the people around the areas of these attacks that the men behind them were cowards. I told them that I cared not if they desired to fight like men and face us head on, as was the feeling of every man in my squad, however, the cowards behind these attacks hit and run. We told the people that we felt that THEY knew when these attacks were going to happen, as it takes time to bury a bomb, or sit up on a roof and shoot RPGs. The people know, but they are afraid to say anything for fear of lethal repercussions. My wish is for the populace to realize that freedom must be earned, for if it is not earned, they will never realize the privileges and the rights that they have and when we leave that country, freedom and democracy will fail for the people will be afraid of the men who wish to see that nation return to oppression.