Smoking areas: good idea, bad location

Logan Morrison

A woman wakes with the sunrise and begins to prepare the family a morning meal. Today they must start early because they have a long way to travel. The polling stations are blocked off by Iraqi National Guardsmen and no cars are allowed throughout the city of Baghdad. They will have to walk if they want to vote. Some people walked thirteen miles to get to their polling station. But that is a short walk to freedom.
The word for voice in Arabic is the same word used for vote. The same word is used in Iraq because the definition is the same. More than sixty percent of the registered voters in Iraq voted in the elections on January 30, 2005. The United States presidential election this past November saw only 54 percent of eligible voters come out to the polls.
There were some attacks. Suicide bombers tried to kill Iraqi citizens, but were stopped at the checkpoints by the Iraqi National Guard or police. The bombers were searched and the bombs were discovered. Many would then set off the device they were carrying. There was one bomber who got close to a line of voters outside the checkpoint, when the bomb was discovered he set it off.
Some Iraqi citizens were hurt in the explosion, but this did not deter any of the voters in line. Those who were not injured helped those that were. Then, they immediately got back in line. They were there to vote, and that is exactly what they did. No threat or bomb would change the their minds. Election day was a true victory for the policemen and guardsmen of Iraq. They protected their own people and showed the world how far they have come.
No one said fighting for freedom in Iraq would be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is, and Iraq is worthwhile. The people there have a future. Forty percent of the Iraqi population is under the age of 14. They are the heart of Iraq and their parents voted to give them a future.
Saddam gave his people no freedom and no future. He gave them only a ballot with one choice-Saddam. Voters had 111 different political parties to choose from, and women saw a ballot for the first time in their lives.
Iraq was voting for a constitutional assembly consisting of 275 members. A full one-third of this assembly is required to be female. Each political party will receive the percentage of seats in the assembly equal to the percentage of votes they received in the election. Then each individual party will select the members for the assembly. This assembly will write Iraq’s first constitution. The people will then have another vote. This time they will decide whether or not to ratify the constitution presented by the assembly.
The United States Constitution was protecting my freedom before I was born. Although it continues to protect me today, it is easy to forget how powerful freedom and choice can be. It is easy to take things for granted. I am so used to having my own opinion and expressing it I could not understand any other way of life. America has lived with the idea of freedom for over two hundred years and we still have not gotten it completely right. Iraq will most likely make mistakes, but they have the benefit of learning from our mistakes. America can pass on the lessons we have learned as a free and democratic nation.
Voters in Iraq were required to dip their index fingers in semi-permanent ink to prevent people from voting more than once. Even the interim president dipped his finger in the ink and proudly voted. This ink-stained index finger became the symbol of victory for the people in Iraq. They held their fingers up in celebration. A celebration of freedom. A celebration of life. A celebration of the future. They finally have the chance to express themselves. They finally have a chance to express their voice-with their vote.