Friday, March 12, 2010
I Voted With Pride
For the first time in my life, I had the honor of participating in an event that has impacted the future of my country tremendously; I voted in the Iraqi election.
I was still young when the American Humvees drove through my neighborhood telling us through the speakers that mounted their vehicles that the war was over and we should resume to our normal life. I saw the old man on TV, beating Saddam’s picture with his shoe, the crowd that dragged the head of a statue of Saddam Hussein. I realized that our lives would never be the same again. Despite what the dark time we went through, as people, we emerged together in unity showing the world and our nasty enemy (terrorism) that we are strong and capable of voicing out our will.
Fortunately, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission added one more voting station outside the country, one that was close to me. It was in Irving, Texas, three hours away from my residence in Austin. I was thrilled.
After being lost for a longer than half an hour and mistakenly driving towards the gates of the local FBI building (in a white van with Iraqi flags stuck on the windows), we found the in-the-middle-of-no-where Crossroads Hotel, the Iraqi voting station in Texas. We rushed our way into the building to be shocked with a line of people that reminded us of the lines people would form waiting in government offices back home, “Just like back there,” said my friend. I nodded in agreement. The line was a little chaotic and as a result, we lost our spot in it to a couple of families.
For the first time in my life, I felt as if I was – even if little – in control of my own destiny. I had a say in the political process, though it was more symbolic. I chose to declare my support for a political party, ideology, and candidate and I did it in a peaceful and civil manner. Though we voted for different candidates, we were all happy we had the opportunity to participate.
After a bad meal at a chain Middle Eastern restaurant, we drove back to Austin. Of course, we spent a big portion of our time discussing the elections. We took pictures of the whole trip and especially of us in the voting station. When I got home around midnight, I couldn’t sleep for quite some time, I was thinking of how proud I am to be part of the process while staring at my purple-inked index finger.