March 7 was historic day
As professional soldiers, we have a narrow view of history. Our version concerns large battles and massed formations clenched in struggles against adversaries. We crave victories with a definitive end.
On the 7th of March your Army watched as a fledgling democracy took hold in one of the few free democratic elections ever held in the Middle East. Our mission was to ensure Iraqis were safe and secure to vote. They voted in record numbers in Ninewa province; their voices were heard with votes instead of artillery rounds. They fired salvo after salvo of ballots for the candidates of their choice. They came out to make a better future.
I was talking to my soldiers after the polls closed on that day, that new D-Day (Democracy Day), March 7, 2010. The most interesting comment came from a young soldier who was 11 years old when we liberated Iraq in 2003. He said to me, “Funny, sir, it didn’t seem like we were making history. ...” I explained the evils of Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, the images that now seem as faded as a black-and-white newsreel from World War II. And then I asked them to listen to the deafening silence heard this modern D-Day. It was the hard-won sound of silence.
Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Your Army met the responsibility of tomorrow by the hard work and sacrifice of yesterday and the ongoing sacrifices of today. Our Army has honorably done what our forebears did at Gettysburg and Omaha Beach. We secured democracy and liberty for others. That guarantee of freedom could be heard in the din of ballots dropping in a ballot box.
That said, your Army made history on the 7th of March 2010.
Col. Charles E. A. SextonMosul, Iraq