“I want to tell you a story. I want to tell you why it is such an important civic duty and obligation to cast your ballot in your country.
In January, 2005 I was on my first sniper mission in Iraq. This was not just any mission. My mission was to provide sniper over-watch at a polling site in the Anbar Province. To have snipers posted for security at a polling site in the United States would be unheard of. Iraq in 2005 was a different story. The Insurgents terrorist from Syria and Iran had moved into our sector. They forcibly took over peoples homes and turned their houses into IED factories and weapon store houses. Anyone who objected would have their entire family, women and children included, summarily shot and their bodies tossed in the ditch. The average Iraqi citizen that I ran into wanted only to raise their family and scrape out a living as best they could, not much different than you and I. The voters that cold day in Iraq had to make a choice.
By January of 2005 the Iraqi people had already been trough hell. The people of Iraq had already endured the oppressive regime of Saddam, where political opposition was met with a military execution squad. Entire families disappeared under his rule, never to be heard from again. He was truly a brutal dictator. As well, they had to contend with the Insurgent Jihadist who had infiltrated their world. These Jihadist had only one goal, which was to kill as many Americans as they could. They did not care who got in their way. Women and children were of no concern. It was commonplace for these Jihadist to plant bombs right next to grade schools because they knew that American Soldiers and Marines would go there to hand out candy and school supplies which had been donated by the generous American public. More importantly Iraqis had to deal with the American Soldiers and Marines and the very presence of us being in their country. Could they trust us? Were we actually out to murder every last one of them and steal their oil as they had been told by the Jihadist? Were we going to murder their children and rape their women as the Jihadist had told them we would? They had to make a very difficult choice and everything , there very lives and the lives of their family and loved ones were at stake.
It was not a matter of who is the best candidate, as it is here in America. It was a life or death decision. Voting at all meant risking your entire family being rounded up in the middle of the night and shot in the back of the head. To vote at all was to effectively make the decision, with their lives and family to support the American effort and cast out the Insurgent Jihadist.
As the polls began to open no one showed up for several hours. By about noon the men began to trickle into the polls to cast their ballot. By 2pm or so the women had finished their daily workload and began to show up. By the time the polls closed there was still a line of women waiting outside the large tents to cast their lot. Every voter had to dip their thumb in simi-permenant black ink to show they had voted and to prevent someone from voting more than once. It was not a sophisticated method such as the computer ballots we have here in America but it did the job. After casting their ballots, these women would walk down the line of those still waiting to vote holding their thumbs high in the air proudly showing off their badge of courage stamped on their thumb. Yelping, hollering in unintelligible tones of joy and pride these women were defiant after centuries of being oppressed. They now had their voice. These women were the first ever women to vote in that country.
They risked it all. Within a week of the election it was clear the Iraqis had sided with America, Freedom and democracy. Sadly there was stark evidence of the Jihadist work in the days that followed. Scores of bodies with black thumbs were found in the ditches and streets of Iraq. However the seed of freedom and Liberty had been sown. Within another year, they would step up with their rifles in the streets and start turning on the Insurgent Jihadist. Although never reported by the media, there were several occasions where Iraqi citizens would grab their AK-47 ‘s and fight for freedom from the tyranny of jack booted thugs right along side American Soldiers and Marines. They voted not to save their country, They voted to save their families in a way that most Americans could not even fathom.
So back to my original question. Why should you bother to vote? Although Iraq is on the other side of the planet and has a culture seemingly completely different than ours, we are much more alike that it appears. Iraq is a country reborn in our lifetime. You witnessed it happen on Fox news, an I saw it unfold right before my eyes. The birth of modern post Saddam Iraq is no different in principle than the birth of our own nation and its 10 year long revolution. It is time to put things into perspective.
When our own country was born there were those who had to make the exact same choice. They had to put their “families, fortune, lives and their sacred honor” on the line, just like the Iraqi people had to do in 2005. When our country was being birthed, families were murdered, churches and towns burned to the ground for supporting the concept of freedom and liberty. They paid the price for you. Many of their loved ones ended up face down in the ditch during our revolution because they stood defiant in the face Tyranny. They paid the price for your Liberty, Freedom and the ideals of democracy, including the coveted right to vote. If you choose to stay home on election day, you not only dishonor those who died for you to have that right, you risk losing it for future generations. Once it is lost,.. there can only be one eventual outcome. In time, the people will look back to a long lost past when people used to be free. Only the oldest, will remember what it was like to vote. It will be up to the future youth to seek out and find a solution to their present situation and right themselves as our forefathers did and as the Iraqi People did. Your children and Grand children will have to risk it all with their lives because you were too busy to vote… This my friends is one of the simple truths of our world..Anytime you allow a right to atrophy, It will be lost.”
Respectful I Remain,
Christopher S. Watson
Texas Army NG , SGT (ret)
Texas and American Citizen