Much has been written about the impact of Iraq's first free elections in 35 years. Perhaps more insight can be gained by looking at a small part of the voting process through the eyes of the Marines who helped make it happen.
In September 2004, Yusufiyah was a town of lawlessness and terror. It was a stifling hot summer day and the wind blew casually, ruffling the leaves of the eucalyptus trees that line the large canal that cuts through the center of the town. We arrived in six Humvees to conduct a leaders' recon. Having recently arrived in Iraq, I wanted to give my platoon commanders and squad leaders a flavor for the major urban areas that comprised the battalion's area of operations. At the time we had no idea that Yusufiyah would be our home for five months.