Monday, October 04, 2004

REAL STORIES FROM IRAQ:

I had the distinct honor of meeting with some incredibly brave Iraqis this weekend in Washington DC. For those of you that think that this war was in vain, that Iraqis are incapable of living the example of freedom and democracy, I’ve got some news….there is so much more going on in Iraq than anyone knows, or could dream, and these people are living proof.
I’m going to profile one every couple of days this week:

Take the 23 year old young lady that I met that is a translator for US service members in Iraq. As we broke bread over a table, I spoke to her about the hardships that she has lived through. Her brother was killed by Saddam in 91 when he participated in the uprising during the 1st Gulf War. Her father was blacklisted, so as never to get work, or the person that hired him would fear for reprisal from Saddam’s forces. They had no money for sugar, or tea. They lived literally hand to mouth, day to day for years. But then came the current regime change. Now, her family has jobs, and money. They are so proud of her, but because she has decided to join the forces that she believes will help bring democracy and peace to her country, they are actively sought after by insurgents. Just 4 months ago, her older sister by a year was shot down, 60 bullets in her body, and why? Because they shot the “wrong” sister, they were after her, because she was translating. She got up and continued going into work, sad, angry, but more determined than ever. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she hoped only that she would not be killed before she had a chance to do what she could for her country, that she had so much that she wanted to give it over the coming years. She said “before I get killed” in a matter of fact tone. I sat in awe.

The gentleman sitting next to me, seeing my rapt expression turned to me and said, “this is normal, you will find with everyone you speak, that they have lost some member of family to Saddam’s regime, me, I had twelve family members shot in front of my eyes.” “This was normal, for us, you understand…normal.”

Yes, I had heard this, and read it, but hearing it from someone that has lived it, looking into their eyes, seeing the pain, the fear, or in some cases scariest of all, the numbness, humanizes it in a way that can not fully be explained.

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