While visiting a nearby town that was once a haven for al-Qaeda, it was explained to me that for the first time in several months the streets are again safe for children to walk to school on largely because of one man. He was not a sheik, an elder, nor community leader previously; in fact he often cowered and hid his family from everyone and everything.
Today he stands tall in the middle of the street and encourages his neighbors to stay involved with keeping al-Qaeda out of their town. When asked why he had a change of heart he spoke about a day 3-months earlier when he witnessed a parked car explode outside of his home. The blast blew out the windows of his house and shrapnel tore into the walls of his daughter’s bedroom.
His eyes welled with tears as he recalled the day two American soldiers were killed protecting his streets, and though the car bomb killed their comrades, the soldiers returned and continued to patrol his neighborhood day after day. It was then he concluded that the time had come for him and his fellow Iraqis to do more for their homes, their families and their future.
The rest is well worth a visit--a great weekend read.