'I'd Like to Thank the U.S.A. for Giving Freedom to My Country'

Iraqis will go to the polls tomorrow to elect their country’s first full-term parliament — a remarkable step on the road to freedom. But starting yesterday here in America, thousands of expatriates began voting at eight U.S. polling places.

Only one polling place is located on the East Coast in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., which drew Iraqis from hundreds of miles away who were eager to cast their ballots.

It was truly inspirational to watch on the local news last night the joy and hope of these Iraqis. Today’s Washington Post captures the scene yesterday. Here are some of the comments made by voters:

  • Banaz Aku, 20, of Manchester, N.H., who fled Iraq in 1996: “I’m here today with the hope that one day my country is peaceful. … No more fighting.”
  • Lina Omar, who works at the Iraq Embassy in Washington: “It’s a very important day. … Iraq needs all of us.”
  • Heymin Abdul, 27, of Harrisonburg, Va., a Kurd who moved to the United States in 1997: “We thank God for the U.S.A. that we’re successful now … to rebuild our country and stay in peace.”
  • Karim Hama, 31, of Harrisonburg, Va.: “We’ve come here to make sure what happened in [Iraq’s] past never happens again.”
  • Ayad Alsaidi, 39, of Fairfax, Va.: “I’d like to thank the U.S.A. for giving freedom to my country. That’s why I’m here today. … I want Iraq to be a wonderful place. No more problems.”
  • Kawsrat Mahmoud, 21, of Fairfax, Va., who immigrated to the United States in 2001: “I feel like I’m being born again.”

Regardless of your feelings about the war, these expressions of hope should indicate to Americans the deep gratitude many Iraqis have for our country.

In return, Americans should show their support. A campaign running this week, Raise a Purple Finger for Freedom, is offering some easy steps for promoting a free Iraq. First and foremost, it encourages Americans to ink their index finger the color purple — the symbolic mark used for voting in Iraq.

You can learn much more at Let’s show Iraqis we support a free and safe Iraq.