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What a Difference a Day Makes

03 February 2005

What an exciting past couple of weeks it's been.  First, President Bush’s stirring inaugural address, then the election in Iraq, then the State of the Union.  These are heady times.  As the President said at his party’s convention in December 2004, “Freedom is on the march.” 

I went to President Clinton’s second inaugural and President George W. Bush’s first.  I stood in front of the Capitol in the cold with thousands of other patriotic (or simply curious) Americans waiting to hear that one electric line that would reverberate through the chilled Washington air and live on in our memories and on the History Channel.  Both times I left disappointed.  Back in 1997, America was living at peace and preoccupied with registering domain names, not registering voters in other domains.  Perhaps President Clinton was thinking too much about what fun he’d have at the after-parties to put a lot of thought into his address.   (“I feel your pain, now can I feel your…)  As for the 2001 inaugural, I think President Bush was just happy to be there.  Nothing he said had the zing of the “hanging chad” which was on many people’s lips.  Whatever the reason, I can’t recall a single line from either speech. 

Then the defining moment of a generation came and with the summons of a trumpet, the tone and tenor of all public pronouncements changed.   

Two weeks ago, President Bush put America and the world’s tyrants on notice that freedom and democracy will be this country’s biggest export. 

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world…

It was a mission statement for the whole country.  This President and the country he leads have found their raison d’etre.  The Statue of Liberty has put on her walking shoes.

A few days ago, nine million people in Iraq did something that, had the Dixie Chicks had their way, would never have happened.  Defying the bad guys and the pundits, they stood up and took control of their country.  Today I received an email from a woman in Baghdad who voted in her country’s first ever democratic election.  Her words, printed here verbatim, are more beautiful than anything I could offer on the subject. 

Congratulation for both of us, it was a marvelous day, the one Iraqis marched to cast their votes in defiance of the mortar attacks, suicide bombers and boycott calls.  The picture of that day scene is unforgettable, the atmosphere was so complete that you can see people eyes were embracing each others while their hands were clapping showing with pride their fingers which marked with ink that identify their voting. 

As I witnessed that picture, I wished I had a sense of a poet soul or even a painter’s pen, but being a normal woman who lived all her life wishing her country the best, I stood there calmly doing nothing than praying to God to keep this day peaceful,

While the US hummers on roads with helicopters above our heads, we keep waving to each others sending a blissful victorious signals, this presence helped much to keep the violence below some of the worst levels seen in the recent months. 

I walked with the family more than 4 hours to reach the polling station.  At the beginning I was not comfortable about walking such miles but as soon as I saw an old women carried on a cart pushed by her grand kid, she could hardly breathe, I felt the need to hasten my steps before the closing time.  There I arrived with a heart full of joy, I saw women with their sons wearing the best they have murmuring to each other “yes this is our day.” This is the day we are waiting for. This the voice of freedom. 

Turning to my husband who was occupied by the entire happiness of those moments, I said; “It doesn’t matter who will win nor who will not, what is important is that we succeeded in making this day a challenging historical one.  

My last word would be to all the brave soldiers who bring us honor to save our country, still we cannot repay the sacrifice you have made for paying the price of freedom with your bravery and courage, all we can say is thank you from all of our heart, may God save you all the time. 

When should the Americans leave Iraq?  When the job is done.