Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The parade is for freedom

Terrorism and "takfir" (declaring someone an infidel) did not divert us from moving forward to build a nation of law. Sectarianism and racism did not stop us from marching together to strengthen our national unity, set ways to peacefully transfer power, adopt a manner to fairly distribute wealth and give equal opportunity to all.

We the people of Iraq, newly arisen from our disasters and looking with confidence to the future through a democratic, federal, republican system, are determined - men and women, old and young - to respect the rule of law, reject the policy of aggression, pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their cares, the children and their affairs, spread the culture of diversity and defuse terrorism.

We are the people of Iraq, who in all our forms and groupings undertake to establish our union freely and by choice, to learn yesterday's lessons for tomorrow, and to write down this permanent constitution from the high values and ideals of the heavenly messages and the developments of science and human civilization, and to adhere to this constitution, which shall preserve for Iraq its free union of people, land and sovereignty.

-From the Preamble to the Iraqi Constitution


Iraq has approved its Constitution. While some of us were celebrating our college Homecoming, on the other side of the world, freedom was coming home, as well. The people of Monmouth College turned out in great numbers to see our winning team, to shake hands and share good cheer with one another. The gathering was, of course, a good thing. The people of Iraq turned out in record numbers to speak their mind with a ballot, some districts reporting ninety percent voting. And, by a fair margin, they agreed that the Constitution their representatives had sweated to produce was, indeed, a very good thing.

That made my heart swell with pride and joy for my fellow man.

The brave people of Iraq have earned some recognition. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, they rose against some of the most terrible of their own religious and political leaders. They did what nearly all the experts said, less than three years ago - less than one year ago - would not happen. With the help of many nations' armies, they stood up and demanded their God-given rights as human beings to have a say in their own lives. By their own initiative, the people of Iraq dared walk out of their houses, in full view of so-called "insurgents" who would deny them their right to exist outside their rigid control, and they entered public places with the aim of continued self-determination. They voted. With that vote, they chose to establish a defined code of law, above which no person or faith may stand, but within which all may thrive. Iraq has approved its Constitution.

But, just as Homecoming is a reminder that education is an ongoing process, and that one must work to keep it, just as Homecoming reminds us that the college itself must be watched over and protected, the ratification of the Iraqi Constitution is another step in a long, problematic growing and learning process. It will not be easy for them - or for us - to continue. There will be setbacks, disappointments. That is the nature of anything man can create. Even now, detractors are counting bodies and proclaiming the cost to be too great. But the chanting of those numbers rings hollow against the greater predicate calculus. As we did in our years in academia, we continue to work toward betterment. We stand beside our fellow freedom-lovers, we recognize them as alumni of this same school of thought: the blood and sweat humanity sheds in gaining and maintaining real freedom is always preferable to that of its alternative.

The parade here in Monmouth on that cool, clear, brilliant October Saturday morning, will now be forever tied, in my mind, to the true triumph of spirit. I will hear music amid the rustle of our autumn leaves, and it will echo with the laughter and song of our brothers and sisters as they stepped into their new future. Our gridiron victory will be only a small reflection of the greater victory being won, piecemeal, overseas. I will see, along with the bright golden leaves, crisp blue sky, and crimson jackets of countless alumni, the purple index fingers waving proudly. I will see families dressed to the nines, some standing on grass, waving to the bagpipe band, some on sand and waving to cameras held by strangers. From all their faces I have seen hope shining.

Iraq has approved its Constitution.




Recommended reading: Michael Yon: Online Magazine: "Purple Fingers", Michelle Malkin: "CPL. JEFFREY B. STARR: WHAT THE NYTIMES LEFT OUT"

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