Two Years Later

On 9 April 2003, American commanders declared that Baghdad was no longer under the rule of the Saddamite Ba'athist regime. This past weekend saw the second anniversary of that historic event. Mohammed at Iraq the Model shares some thoughts:
The 9th of April paved the way for that historic revolution and I think this is more than enough to make us keep this day in our hearts forever.

We have passed the cruel tests of terror, we went to cast our ballots and we're rebuilding what was destroyed and we're looking forward to building more and more but most important is that we're going to write our holy book, our constitution, by ourselves to preserve our freedom and stop tyranny from invading our land again.

After decades of isolation enforced by Saddam on Iraq, today Iraqis come back to join the free world and catch up with what they had missed; slowly but surely.

Some shortsighted people doubt the outcome of this day and think that it's not suitable to announce it a success but we say to them:
You're free to think whatever you like, we got on the train, but you’re standing still.

Nor has President Bush forgotten. He was at Fort Hood in Texas today, and thanked the soldiers for their hard work in Iraq:
"If we can start to change the most powerful country in the Middle East, the others will follow," Bush said. "Americans 20 years down the road won't have to deal with a day like Sept. 11, 2001."

Bush noted that on April 9, 2003 -- two years ago last Saturday -- a statue of Saddam Hussein that stood in Baghdad was pulled from its pedestal to the ground on the day American commanders declared Saddam's regime no longer ruled in the city.

"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded, alongside the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one of the great moments in the history of liberty," Bush said.

Indeed, it's been a very long trudge. Even many who supported the war at the outset began to have their doubts. Thus it was with a little satisfaction that I read today's Wall Street Journal editorial, which chastised the fair-weather supporters of the war:
The people who really concern us here--the people who did not pass the test--are those who signed up for the war at the beginning only to find one excuse or another to sign out before it was won. Usually, those excuses centered on some Bush bungle, real or alleged, that no "competent" Administration would have made but that was said to have rendered the whole enterprise morally sullied and irremediable. The looting of Baghdad falls into this category, as does the political wallowing in the abuses of Abu Ghraib.

In this respect, Mr. Galbraith and his ilk are heirs to that generation of '60s leaders who took the U.S. into Vietnam only to turn against the war in fits of self-doubt, self-flagellation, excessive fine-tuning and political cravenness, after thousands of servicemen had lost their lives. Sad to say, this time around the doubters included all too many conservatives who supported the war at first but then distanced themselves from it as the insurgency grew. They had their own reputational "exit strategies."

We have had our criticisms of the way the Administration handled the prewar diplomatic and postwar reconstruction and counterinsurgency effort. But no chapter of America's military history has been free of strategic mistakes and tactical disasters, and our lodestar throughout has been the goal of eventual victory. As we wrote at the onset of war, in March 2003, "Toppling Saddam is a long-term undertaking" and "The largest risk is an imponderable: Whether Americans can generate the political consensus to sustain involvement in Iraq."

Two years later we know the answer to that question is yes, thanks to the fortitude and wisdom of a President, our soldiers and the American public. Maybe next time, our best and brightest will show the same character.

Finally, for those who have begun to return, home has never been so sweet. The Wall Street Journal publishes a homecoming account from Staff Sergeant Greg Moore:
My release from Fort Drum came earlier than expected, so when I pulled into my driveway at noon the house was empty. I dropped my bags inside and walked alone through the rooms, soaking in the images and smells that had been only a memory during ten months in Iraq.

My older son's first-grade teacher had been wonderful to me while I was away. She sent school updates and pictures via e-mail almost weekly. So when I popped my head into her classroom she came running and gave me a "welcome home" hug.

"Easton is practicing a song. Why don't you surprise him?"

My heart was racing. I followed the sound of the piano and the little voices singing, then stood and watched. Trickles of love and pride started involuntarily down my cheeks as I listened to my son. He has gotten so big. The anticipation built as I waited for him to see me.

The little girl next to him was the first to notice the uniformed man standing in the doorway. The image she saw and the facts she had been told were doing battle in her brain. Then her eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open.

"Easton! Easton . . . your Daddy's here!" she said in an electrified whisper.

My son's head snapped around. The excitement and disbelief on his face is something I will never forget. I motioned him to me and he ran into my open arms. There was no hiding my tears, and I didn't care to. This was the day I had waited for.

I choked out my words of love and hung on to this boy who had cried so many nights, who said he didn't care if he got any other presents for Christmas, he only wanted his Daddy to come home. This boy who had used all his wishes on me. He kept pulling his head back from my shoulder to look at my face. Cheers rose from the other kids and teachers.

Hand-in-hand, Easton and I stepped outside and drove to the other side of town. I had another little boy to catch up with. When I went inside he was napping. "Marshal, wake up. I have a surprise for you," I heard his day-care provider say.

She came out with his head on her shoulder. When he looked up his eyes grew wide and all signs of sleepiness disappeared. "Daddy!" he exclaimed in pure excitement as he fell forward into my arms. My heart ached with love, and pure joy soaked my cheeks.

I was complete again. I had my boys. And there have never been more perfect words spoken to me than "I love you, Dad."

Americans will remain divided over the wisdom of going to war. But once having committed to it, the only way out was victory. The uniformed men and women of the United States Armed Forces are showing, day by day, that America is not only no longer a paper tiger, but that as with the old Marine saying, in the United States, others shall find "no better friend, no worse enemy".

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments containing Chinese characters will not be published as I do not understand them