Like today's Iraqis, all they wanted was to vote. They, too, must have felt their stomachs knot, knowing that armed state troopers at any moment might rain violence on their unprotected heads. Which, of course, they did. Insurgents in Iraq; state-sanctioned terror in America. We have seen this before.
We've come a long way.
And so have Iraqis. In less than two years, they've been invaded, liberated, occupied and now face their first election with some 7,000 candidates and 111 political parties. Americans can follow the election through the a team of Iraqi bloggers, who will be reporting real-time from the ground, thanks to Jim Hake and his Spirit of America, a nonprofit, nonpolitical charity that donates money and resources to advance democracy.
Working with Friends of Democracy in Iraq, Hake has recruited some 15 Iraqis - including journalists, a naval officer, students and a psychiatrist - who will be blogging from different cities and provinces at the Friends of Democracy site (www.friendsofdemocracy.org). I, for one, will be riveted.
Whether or not one agrees with the war that brought Iraq to this point, no American can watch these proceedings without wonder and respect. We've been there. We've had our own revolutions and our own demons to pursue. More than anyone else on the planet, we should be cheering them on.
I don't know how those Iraqi men and women, some of whom reportedly have sworn a last will and testament in preparation to vote, will make the trek from their homes to the polls. Just as I don't know how those marchers in Selma made it across the bridge with their heads split and their shirts bloody.
But they did.
Here's hoping Iraqis will, too.
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