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Susan Dakak

Susan Dakak is an Iraqi American living in Knoxville.This piece was provided courtesy of Spirit of America.

An Iraqi-American Votes
Democracy in Iraq..

[Susan Dakak] 1/29/05

About 27 years ago when my family and I immigrated to the US, Iraq and Iran were not fighting, Iraq had not invaded Kuwait, Saddam was not the president of Iraq, and the Iraqi economy was better than all the surrounding countries. Our family’s decision to move to the US was based on education, promising futures, and fulfilling the American dream.

I received a good education from Tennessee Tech University; and over the years, my life kept improving. I worked in my field of civil engineering, got married, and was able to have a great little family when our miracle son was born.

All this time, while my family and I were enjoying the fruits of this prosperous and very blessed country, the friends and neighbors I grew up with were facing the worst days of their lives. Some were killed in one or the other of Saddam's multiple wars. Others suffered the loss of family members through torture and sufferings at the hands of Saddam and his people.

While my life was getting better each day, the lives of my Iraqi friends just kept getting worse.

About two years ago, the same country that had for all these years given me so much to be thankful for, decided to extend those same opportunities to my old friends and neighbors. The government of this great nation gathered up its troops and went over lands and seas to help folks I cared about.

My reaction to such an overwhelming, humanitarian act was to volunteer to do what I could to help the American government. And last January, I went to work with the Coalition Provincial Authority to join the Iraqi reconstruction efforts in the fields of sanitary sewers and women’s rights issues.

It was an experience I will cherish the rest of my life; because I was able to see the hard work that was put into the whole operation from both sides--the Americans' and the Iraqis' . I saw Iraqis working very hard, day and night, to quickly absorb knowledge and expertise from Americans. I saw women and men from both countries working together toward establishing a whole new nation. I saw cooperation and team work that is unprecedented in the history of the world. I also saw the humility and appreciation the Iraqis had for every American who had come to help them.

When I went to Iraq, my whole objective was to transfer my technical knowledge of 26 years to my Iraqi friends. I had not anticipated the knowledge I would gain from watching the Iraqi people so willing to learn and so ready to make every effort to make this war a success. They wanted to prove to the world they are worthy of the sacrifices the men and women of the US military had made on their behalf.

Today, I am faced with yet another proof of how wonderful America is--this country I am so proud to call "home."

After freeing Iraq, the United States is now helping the Iraqis elect a President, Prime Minister, and an entire 275 - member Parliament --a government that is by the people, of the people, and for the people of Iraq.

While it is a huge step to establish voter registration for all 25 million Iraqis, the US is also providing those of us who have not lived in Iraq for many decades, the opportunity to vote for the first legitimate Iraqi election in over 70 years. Because of the war of Iraq and the new temporary Iraqi constitution, Iraqi expatriates are able to hold dual citizenship. This means that we are now eligible to take part in this historical event.

I took my mom and dad with me last week and went to Nashville (one of the approved Iraqi election centers) and registered to vote. It was an emotional and unbelievable trip.

We arrived at the voting site and were greeted by security and other officials working there. The City of Nashville was holding a press conference at the time we were there. The whole town had experienced a major undertaking with all the security forces, continual bus service, and police escorts to and from the voting site.

And the United States did all this to enable us to take part.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my parents and me. I was watching my parents taking this whole experience so seriously and asking so many questions about most of the candidates (about 270). At their age and because of security issues, traveling to Iraq to vote would have been impossible for them and for many other Iraqi Americans in this country.

I couldn’t help being so thankful to the US for making this possible. I thought, "They couldn't go to Iraq so this great Country of ours simply brought Iraq to them.”

For over 26 years, now, I have started my day by counting the blessings the United States of America has provided for me. The list has grown enormously over the years.

Today, I added a new blessing to my list--I can cast my basic right to vote in the upcoming Iraqi elections.

May God continue to protect America and may He bless and guide her from sea to shining sea. tRO

Susan Dakak is an Iraqi American living in Knoxville.This piece was provided courtesy of Spirit of America.
copyright 2005 Susan Dakak







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