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Citizen Journalists on the Iraqi elections

Readers write in and share their experiences  with the upcoming elections in Iraq.
"My daughter, the mother of a toddler son, left on Monday for a year's second-tour duty in Iraq. She is with the 101st Airborne, but assigned to the 3rd ID out of Ft. Stewart, Georgia. She is an aviator, and we can only hope that her young son, who, by the time he is four will have been separated from his mother for half of those four years, will someday understand the sacrifice she and he have made for the Iraqi people. I hope the Iraqi people will understand this sacrifice, too, for their right of choice and voice." -Margo Ungricht
"My daughter, the mother of a toddler son, left on Monday for a year's second-tour duty in Iraq. She is with the 101st Airborne, but assigned to the 3rd ID out of Ft. Stewart, Georgia. She is an aviator, and we can only hope that her young son, who, by the time he is four will have been separated from his mother for half of those four years, will someday understand the sacrifice she and he have made for the Iraqi people. I hope the Iraqi people will understand this sacrifice, too, for their right of choice and voice." -Margo UngrichtMargo Ungricht

I am a military wife of 25 plus years, a military mother of two sons and a veteran of the WAC. My husband is currently deployed in Iraq and my oldest son has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. My Younger son is new to the military, but anticipates deployment before the year is up. I have never been more proud of my own heros as well as all the men and women of our Armed Forces then as I watched the news of the Iraqi people turning out by the millions to reclaim their country from decades of imprisonment from a deadly Regime. Thanks to the sacrifices of many, children have a chance to experience freedom for the first time. I thank God every day for the safety of my personal heros and the safety of all the sons, daughters, wives and husbands of a truly proud America and as demonstrated by the enormous turn out at the elections, of a truly grateful Iraq. Thank you all.  —Debbie

My brother is a Marine with the 5th Division out of Camp Pendleton, CA. He leaves for Iraq at the end of this month. He is the youngest of four and the only boy. All of his siblings, his brother in law and his father are in the military (Marine Corps, Air Force & Army). While we are worried and scared, we are also extremely proud of him to be going. Every fight that entails freeing people from the kind of violence that Suddam Hussein displayed towards his people, is the GOOD FIGHT. It does not matter what political agenda others may have followed to get us there, to the soliders it is about the people and nothing else.  Recently I finally felt hope about what our soldiers are doing over there when I saw the numbers of Iraqi's who had turned out to vote in Iraq. They are finally standing up and fighting for their rights, their freedom. And I feel that we, and the other countries who have soldiers over there, gave them the hope and courage to do this. They are no longer opressed. They will not be stopped. They have tasted freedom and will never go back. And that makes me feel that the soldiers we have lost was worth it. Prior to that, I did not feel that way.  —Danica Love, Baytown, TX

I thought I would add to these letters I am reading that though the people in the United States may not think that People in Canada are united with them, that is not entirely true. I have dual citizenship and am very proud of the fact that my family has a long history of proudly serving both countries in the military. At the present time I have a niece serving with the HHC 82nd Engineering battalion in Baqubah and two nephews that are on their second deployment, this time around they are with the Stryker Brigade out of Ft Lewis  and are based in Mosul. Before that they were with the 502nd, Widowmakers, of the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles and the Blue Falcons of the 82nd Airborne.Both of these young men were in Bagdad at the beginning of this war. The Canadian part of our family is extremely proud of these young people for their courage and determination as they proudly carry on the family tradition of serving their country. Our yellow ribbons will remain tied for all to see until they return safely to us. —Diane Phillips, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada

My son just returned from Iraq after serving there in the Army for 13 months.  I am SO proud of him.  The first three months they didn't have mail access.  The last five months they weren't able to get mail because they were preparing to come home.  During the other five months they moved twice and all mail was returned to senders, even though we requested it be given to other GI's.  The packages came back so mangled that I didn't even recognize them.  My son spent his 20th birthday in Iraq, as well as the Christmas holiday season... with no mail.  No notes from home to reassure him and uplift him. No family news or photos.  It makes me so sad for him and for others like him.  Still, my son remains adamant that the purpose there is so good that it's all worth it.  He's been back in the states for three weeks. He hasn't been able to make a trip home yet. I learned yesterday he's scheduled to return to Iraq in 10 months.  —CM Miller, Ia.

My son is a Marine in Iraq.  I can't wait till this war is over so I can publish HIS side of everything and the letters he has written home.  I am very concious about what I write and ask him but agree wholeheartedly with the other mothers who say you only report the negative.  I have some wonderful photos of his time over there (the first and now his second voluntary tour of duty). He loves the children and believes they have a future that will be free. He would die for those children so they may have that freedom as he would for his own small nephew he barely knows. He is happy about the elections but knows it will take time for freedom to take hold and that he might not see a totally free and self governing Iraq anytime soon but is very proud that he has had something to do with the elections and small steps they are making now. I am a proud mom. —Roxanne Schoville, Cedar Falls, Ia.

We have two deployed in Iraq, served extended tours, and both are under orders to re-deploy to Iraq for 2nd tour as well as being under Stop Loss orders now.  Interesting how when it is their time to decide whether to re-enlist they get Stop Lossed, isn't it?  I want my two home, and while I'm proud of them as young men and as soldiers, I'm not for a second proud that our country is in Iraq.  So after almost 3 years Iraq will have elections, and will the war then end...not hardly.  I do not believe my two, who have served honorably, will live out their lives proud of their actions in Iraq, rather will live with the conflict and turmoil in their souls that war brings to any warrior.  I simply cannot see how proud Americans could wish this on our young. —Lietta Yuger, Bay Center, Wash.

My son served in Iraq for 11 months last year and was home in time for Christmas. My nephew is there now and so is my step son God be with them...with all of them and their families. Let's pray this over soon. —Diana Dowland, Memphis, Tenn.

My 20 year old son PFC Ryan Blau is with the 82 Air bourne somewhere in Baghdad.  I have very mixed emotions about this election and the future of the Iraqi people.  I do however support my son and  the troops that are risking their lives for democracy.  We may not agree, but we do need to support.  I am praying for each and everyone of our troops— and the Iraqis— so that we may strive toward peace and freedom and bring our sons, husbands, daughters and wives home safely. —Sandra Mansfield, Davenport, Fla.

My husband is a soldier in 1st Cav. He has been deployed to Iraq since March of last year and due to return mid-March this year. My husband deployed when I was 4 months pregnant with our now 6 month old daughter. He has missed the first 6 months of her life and a year of our 3- year-old sons life. Now we are being told that if things don't go smoothly in the upcoming elections that he could be kept over there another 6 months to a year. Up untill three days ago, we were able to talk almost daily. He had warned me that with the elections coming up that we wouldn't be able to talk for a while. Seeing and reading all that is happening in Iraq right now is very disturbing and making things even harder than they already were. My heart goes out to everyone who has family that is in harms way, no matter where it is!
—Nicole Morris-Reade, Redmond, Ore.

I am a military mom with a Marine son in the gulf.  He is 23 years old.  My only son.  I am proud of what he is doing and even though he is in harm's way, he is doing a great duty for his country and serving an awesome purpose for mankind. That purpose is much bigger than any one of us, much bigger than any government and much bigger than any country.  That purpose I believe,  is spreading freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion across the world, along with other countless freedoms that we as Americans take for granted on a daily basis. Many people think that America is not affected by what happens in Iraq. But they are wrong. We are all part of an entire planet and an entire civilization.  Weare all part of humanity.  Things that happen on one side of the world affects all other parts of the planet. With birth comes birth pangs. The resulting child is beautiful.  We must support this cause, if we as a whole believe in the freedom that we profess. —Sue Ann T., San Jose, Calif.

I am honored to live in one of 5 cities in the U.S. where Iraqis can vote.  Today I went to the site of the elections here in Nashville with a computer print out of an Iraqi flag and held it high to those going in and out of the secure area. They hung out of their cars, waved at me, gave me thumbs up, yelled, "Thank you," and seemed thrilled to be exercising a right we in the U.S. take for granted.  Today, I am proud to be an American. —Valerie Clemente, Nashville, Tenn.

As an American Shia and Kurd, I voted yesterday. I voted as an American to show my gratitude to all the men and women in uniform and their families and especialy for thoes who made the ultimate sacrifice, so I can vote. I voted as a Shia, for all those who were killed in the 1991 Shia uprising and later were found in mass graves, as they can not vote. I voted as a Kurd for all those Kurds who were gased with chemical weapons in Halabja, and could not vote. Only in America, Thank you America, I am so grateful.
—Sarmad Aqrawi, Dearborn, Mich.

I just left an area in Baghdad. I was stationed there at Victory Base for 11+ months. You see for yourself during the day the plumes of smoke and the loud explosions and can only imagine what has taken place. As soldiers, every night we laid our heads down to try to rest, [but wondered,] "Will something come falling from the sky and land in your living area? Will you hear the sounds of the incoming rounds and be able to react prior to them impacting your area?" It was many sleepless nights. Unfortunately, we had lost 2 great soldiers. I know the American people always want to hear about the blood and guts of a war but, I hope they take the time and talk to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and report some of the more positive things that are taking place in the region: Schools, hospitals, electrical power systems, sewer systems, and training areas are to just name a few. How many Iraqis has the Corps hired this last year to help rebuild their region? Can we put a price tag on the engineering effort? These are just some examples. —Steven S., Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

I am Iraqi and the media is so far from the reality on the ground.  Only those who have interests with the U.S. or a personal gain are interested in this election.  That is a likely less than 10 percent of the entire country's population. The media continues to stay that Saddam's gov't was Sunni only but 75 percent of the former Ba'ath party was Shia. —Ali, N.Y.

We have a son stationed in Baghdad who is sniper.  He is due to come home late March if the election goes well.  He is with the U.S. National Guard unit from Cottage Grove, Oregon.  I was told last night if the election has a lot of problems that he could be there another year. 
Karen S. Paul, Terrebonne, Ore.

As the youngest sister of SSG Darren J Cunningham who died September 30, 2004, these elections in Iraq are very important to us.  Darren's work in setting up 80 Iraqi police stations will help secure the Iraqi's to vote.  He believed in helping those less fortunate then him, volunteering to go to Iraq, he will not be forgotten and his work will live on through the Iraqi police.  —Kelly Cunningham, Boston, Mass.

I watched a TV segment this morning about a soldier who was badly burned on his last active duty day overseas and what his community did for him.  It was so wonderful for how his family and community pulled together to help. 

I know my husband and I could use a miracle like that.  My husband SSG Robert Springer has been in Iraq since May 23, 2004, serving as a Nurse/Medic. I have been working so hard to try and pay off all our debt and take care of our two young kids, two-year-old Katey and six-month-old James 6 alone.  Right now, my two babies and I are living in a one bedroom "mother-in-law-suite."

My husband is due to come home Feb 16.  But he lost 80% of his vision in his right eye do to a mysterious infection he got in Iraq.  Specialists are still trying to figure out the source of the infection. 

I have no idea how we are going to be able to get out on our own again.  —Dena Springer, Ponte Vedra, Fla.   

My son is an army reservist and he returned from Iraq last March. He was ordered to attend one of the inauguration parties.

I am prior service myself, so I felt very proud that he was chosen from all the people in his group.  This particular gathering was to honor many of the soldiers and their families who have been to Iraq.

A group of five drove down from Long Island to Washington last Monday morning, and they were to return Tuesday evening.

Around midnight on Tuesday, my son returned home, looking tired from the drive.  The next morning, he told me he didn’t have a good time because they basically stood around and watched the president say a few words. He said there was no food provided for them, so they ate after the event at some fast-food restaurant. They spend all this money for this celebration and can't feed my son? He stayed at a local military base with the rest of the group, but they made him pay for the room.

Apparently, there was a mix-up, or they were short a room.

I don't care what the problem was, he was told to go, this was not an option, orders were cut for this excursion!  I am disgusted and horrified that he had to even show his wallet for this event.

In addition to serving as a medic in the 310 MP Batallion, my son is a full-time student and works part-time to fill in the gaps the military doesn't. He takes his responsibility as a soldier very seriously.

I am angered at the way he has been treated.  People need to know how some heroes are being treated by their own government.  —Rebecca Lawson, West Babylon, N.Y.

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