There are only a few times in life when you see an event and know you are witnessing history. That happened today.
Today, seven years after the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the last American combat troops are departing. But the country they are leaving behind is different. Its people are no longer at the mercy of a despicably cruel dictator who took pleasure in torturing, raping and murdering its citizens. They have voted. They have glimpsed the promise of a brighter future.
It is no longer Saddam Hussein’s country.
Every time they go to a polling booth, or wave and smile at an Iraqi soldier, or think about the possibilities that beckon them as free citizens, I hope the Iraqis take a second – just a second – to think about the every day American Soldier, or Marine, Sailor, Airman or Coastguardsman who sacrificed far away from their own homes to make it all possible. Maybe they will offer a silent thank you, or a prayer on their behalf. The Americans never asked for anything, but many gave everything – their own lives – to allow the Iraqis the right to live a good life.
The Americans are leaving quietly and without fanfare. They are content to let the Iraqis take the spotlight as they slowly fade from the picture. There was no victory celebration, no ticker-tape parades. But let there be no doubt. Victory was achieved – not only militarily, but in so many other ways too.
Those who have served and are still serving in Iraq are heroes. Every single one of them. They can take satisfaction in knowing that they stuck it out. They finished. They fought through the hard times and persevered. They made history.
And in the end, we all won. Us, the Iraqis, all of us.