They say that the US invasion of Iraq started on March 20th, but I heard the missiles on the 19th.
Today, March 19, 2018, marks the 15th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. On this day fifteen years ago, I was 13 years old sitting on my bed when I heard the first missile flying over the roof of our house. The rumbling sound of that missile will resonate in my ears forever. Seconds later, that missile would detonate, shaking our entire home, and marking a new and a very bloody chapter of lives in Iraq.
Because of that invasion, I lost my father, my home, and got separated from the rest of my family members who are now scattered all over the world.
However, this post is not intended to point fingers and say that invasion was a mistake. We, people who lived through the invasion, lost those most dear to us, and dealt with all of its unfortunate circumstances, understand that the invasion was not just a mistake, it was a crime against humanity.
It is important for us to be reminded that the US-led invasion of Iraq was devastating, and that devastation is lasting. We cannot move forward if we choose to forget and pretend nothing happened. It is not despite this, but because of this, that we need for a new and healthier relationship between Iraq and the United States.
I remember in early 2004, three American military Humvees stopped by my school one day. The soldiers walked in to deliver many boxes of school supplies. One of the soldiers approached me, and handed me some notebooks, candy, and two packs of MRE peanut butter. It was the first time i tried peanut butter and it is the one good thing that came out of the invasion.
I am a firm believer that Iraq and the United States can benefit so much from one another. From trade and economic prosperity to the security of the region and the world, these two nations must start forging new partnership based peace and long-lasting positive change.
So many people ask me today: “how do you feel about living in America, the country that invaded your home?” My answer is simple: the American people did not invade my country. They welcomed me in their homes.
America opened its doors for me, sheltered me, provided me with excellent education, and helped me rebuild my life once again. America is my home today and I love living here. At the same time, Iraq still remains my country of origins and I am very proud of that. That is where I learned to walk, talk, and read and write.
I hope you can join me today in remembering all of those who sacrificed their lives in that war, both Iraqis and Americans, and look forward to a brighter and stronger relationship between those two great nations.