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Listen to the Women of Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

LISTEN TO THE WOMEN OF IRAQ -- (House of Representatives - July 20, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the order of the House of January 20, 2004, the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, in late October, I had the opportunity to be in Iraq as part of a bipartisan female congressional delegation, and to visit there with our military men and women. Also, while I was there, I had the opportunity to visit and meet some of the Iraqi women who are taking a very strong and very decisive stand for freedom in that country.

Since returning from that trip, I have participated in the Iraqi Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, and I would commend my colleague, the gentlewoman from Washington (Ms. Dunn), for her incredible work on pulling that caucus together and for her efforts in continuing to work with and supporting the Iraqi women.

We had the opportunity last week to have some of those Iraqi women here. A group of Iraqi women were here to look at how we participate in freedom, how we learn to run for office, and how we learn to take a leadership role. They had a fantastic story to tell, and it is a story that we should be listening to. We should be participating with them in celebrating the successes that they are having and the achievements that they are making over in Iraq.

Mr. Speaker, I find it really quite amazing that much of the liberal media chooses not to communicate the story of the great successes that are taking place there in Iraq. At a policy committee last Thursday morning, we had many of these women with us and we listened to them, and it was a wonderful opportunity for our Members to ask questions of these Iraqi women. Many of them did, and the responses were phenomenal. I wish each and every Member could have heard some of these responses.

One of our colleague's asked, what do you say, what do you say when Members and constituents will say, well, I do not think we should have gone into Iraq. What do you say? How do you reply? And the responses from those very brave and courageous Iraqi women ranged from, well, you waited too long; to, if you leave, 25 million Iraqis will be subjected to torture; to, a mother who told us about trying to take a telephone call from her son when his tongue had been cut out by Saddam's regime; and the affliction that is felt when 48 of your relatives are killed; and the sorrow you feel when a million of your fellow countrymen are missing.

These are all stories that we need to hear, and then celebrate and support the success that these women have as they are accepting the responsibility of freedom.

Mr. Speaker, I had this article forwarded to me yesterday by General David Patrias and his wonderful wife Holly. They have just left the command at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. General Patrias commanded the 101st and is now back over in Iraq. This is something that probably we are never going to see on the front page of many of our Nation's major newspapers, and certainly on many of the networks we are not going to hear this story. It comes from a military training post in Jordan, and it is a story about not the first but the second group of Iraqi women to complete military training.

This is about 39 women who have graduated from the military training camp here in Jordan on July 8. And, listen to this, all, all, each and every one of them, all, with the hope of making a differences for their country, and none thinking about that they are making history.

And look at this, the reason they are doing this. These women are committed to freedom. They know that the terrorists are now using women more often in attacks. So these women are coming forward. One of them says, "From when I was young, I dreamed of being in the military." Dreamed of fighting for her country; dreamed of fighting for freedom. "I have some fears, but we have to control them. I'm optimistic about the future."

They have such a hope for what can happen in their country, and they want to be a part of it. They want to support freedom. Then this quote I really love. "Everything starts from scratch."

They realize it is going to be a long time in coming, but they continue their commitment.

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