Of An Iraqi Vote:
12 Drops Of American Blood
ZERO PLUS 1220 DAYS,--New York, NY, Friday, January
14, 2005--Iraqis are
defying threats of being killed if they vote, claim the leaders
of the country. "The vote is going forward. We will not
be intimidated," is the war cry of Iraqi spokesmen promoting
the need for a national election.
There is a cost to such a stance.
It is American blood.
blood is the cost of non-intimidation in Iraq
So far, more than 1,300 Americans have died in
Iraq, and more fall daily at the hands of Terrorists attempting
to disrupt the infrastructure and drive America and its allies
back to their respective countries so tyranny and oppression
can be reinstalled in the land of 24 million Saddam Hussein
once ruled for a quarter century.
The human body contains about twelve pints of
blood. The 1300 American deaths in Iraq amount to 15,600 pints
This doesn't include the blood spilled from the
When looking at the price of an Iraqi vote, it
is important to think in terms of human blood. There are 96
teaspoons in one pint. Converting the 15,600 pints of American
blood soaked into the Iraqi soil into teaspoons amounts to nearly
A teaspoon equals about sixty drops. Multiplying
that number times the 1.5 million teaspoons of American blood
equals 90 million drops of American blood representing all the
deaths of American troops to date in Iraq.
million drops of American blood have been shed in Iraq
Converting the price of American blood to each
Iraqi, Americans have spilled 3.75 drops of blood for each and
every Iraqi citizen.
Farid Ayar of Iraq's Independence
Electoral Commission said he expected half of the 15 million
eligible voters in the war-torn country to cast their votes.
There are 14 million eligible voters inside Iraq and another
1.5 million living outside the country who can vote absentee,
The estimated 7 to 8 million voters, Farid Ayar
commented, will brave threats by terrorists. Many religious
leaders promote that the duty of each citizen is to vote, and
refuse to be intimidated at the ballot box.
Elections slated for January 30 are expected to
be held despite the killing of candidates for office and constant
suicide bombings seeking to undermine the democratic process.
The price of such voting in American blood will
be high--12 drops of blood for each vote if half the population,
7 million, cast ballots.
But will that price be worth the cost of an American
No more greater question rips at the fabric of
America. Does America have a duty and obligation to sacrifice
its young warriors to protect the freedom and liberty of others
thousands of miles away?
Is the price of Iraqi freedom worth 12 drops of
American blood per vote?
Is the price
of Iraqi freedom worth 12 drops of American blood per
I had such a question posed to me in 1966 in a
place called Mo Duc, Vietnam.
I was one of the first U.S. Marine Combat Correspondents
to land in Vietnam. One of the missions I went on was to protect
the villagers of that nation in the first democratic election
held in South Vietnam.
The Viet Cong threatened to kill any villager
who attempted to vote.
The area we protected was called Mo Duc, a voting
area in the middle of Vietnam. It was predominately rural, with
rice farmers who lived in grass huts, had dirt floors, were
barefoot, and wanted only to raise their crops. Freedom seemed
as far distant to them--so I thought--as an ice machine. The
vast majority had no electricity.
We were attacked the night before elections by
the Viet Cong and a number of my Marine buddies were killed
beside me. I survived unscathed with one exception. I held one
of my dying buddies in my arms. He bled out on me, soaking me
with his blood.
I wondered if the war was worth the death of my
fellow Marines. I was sure no villager would risk death to vote.
Who would go to a ballot box with a gun to their head if they
did, I thought.
if the war was worth the death of my fellow Marines
The next morning my buddy's blood was caked on
my uniform and hands. I looked at it and questioned again the
value of human life for the nebulous, fleeting right of freedom
for a people who seemed so far distant from what I knew about
democracy. These were rice farmers, living in primitive surroundings
as had humans thousands of years ago. What did they know about
liberty? About freedom?
Perhaps, I thought, my friend and all others who
had fallen in Vietnam died in vain.
Then it happened.
As the sun climbed into the blue Vietnamese sky,
they began to appear, one after another, slowly, from the jungle,
onto Highway One that carved a path from North to South Vietnam.
At first they were small black dots wearing their
black farmer pajamas and conical straw hats, walking toward
the voting poll of Mo Duc in the Quang Ngai province.
More appeared until the road was filled with villagers,
primitive farmers who used water buffalos to plow their rice
paddies and ate fish and rice cooked over blackened kettles
in fires burning on dirt and sleeping on mats in grass huts
with no electricity, newspapers, radios, televisions or other
Each was risking his or her life to cast a vote
A tear welled in my eye as I watched them brave
their way to the voting polls and set their mark upon the ballot.
I looked at the blood of my brother Marine, caked
and rust-colored as the beating sun turned it into scales on
my skin. At that moment I realized why we were dying.
there was value in giving one's life for the life of a
people to be free and their children to be free
I realized there was value in giving one's life
for the right of a people to be free, and for their children
and their children's children's children to be free.
We may have lost the war in Vietnam by some standards.
However, on that hot day in Mo Duc when the villagers voted,
That victory has been washed over with much shame
and guilt because we retreated from Vietnam, but I do believe
that the villagers who cast a vote for freedom and liberty that
day thirty-nine years ago knew exactly what they were voting
I believe they have passed on to their children
the story of how they voted for freedom in the face of death,
and that one day their land will be free and others will have
the same right to vote as they once expressed.
Despite decades of people telling me how we lost
the war in Vietnam, I know we didn't lose it. We didn't lose
the right of freedom and liberty for those people who once voted,
that they might vote again through their children and grandchildren
at some distant point in time.
when the villagers in Mo Duc voted we won the war and
they passed on to their children how they voted for freedom
in the face of death
I also know that the blood of my fellow Marines
who died in Vietnam, and those who are dying in Iraq, was not
On January 30, when the Iraqis vote for their
freedom and liberty, they will be casting their ballots not
just with their ink, but with the blood of Americans. That blood--twelve
drops per vote--will be the blood of liberty and freedom. It
will be a worthy price to establish freedom.
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