Operation Iraqi Freedom was spearheaded by Colin Powell’s address to the United Nations on February 5, 2003. The following month Saddam Hussein was given 48 hours to relinquish control of Iraq, an act that he refused. Then, on March 19, 2003 our war in Iraq began. In the many years that followed, our troops have fought intense battles in Fallujah and have attempted to suppress Sunni insurgents. Thousands of men and women have died in the line of duty. It is interesting to note that we have spent nearly six years in Iraq. In those six years, soldiers have displayed acts of valor and bravery. Some have gone on to marry Iraqi citizens.
In their October 27, 2007 article, “Love and War” for Newsweek Magazine, Christopher Dickey and Jessica Ramirez discuss instances of American soldiers falling in love and marrying Iraqi citizens. Often the brutality of war is eased by the prospects of love or even the more culturally complicated prospect of marriage.
Most of the difficulties in marrying an Iraqi citizen pertain to the socio-cultural and religious differences of the Western and Muslim world. Love, however, has been able to bridge those differences despite the many obstacles that would otherwise prevent such a union.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it fitting to pay tribute to those brave heroes within our armed forces who have sought and found love in Iraq. In pervious generations, war brides were more prevalent within the armed forces. A war bride refers to citizens inhabiting battle zones that are subsequently married to American soldiers.
The truth, however, is that not all marriages to Iraqi citizens have been American men marrying Iraqi women. Dickey and Ramirez discuss instances of American women marrying Iraqi men. Irrespective of these variations, however, what is interesting to note is the desire to overcome linguistic, social, cultural, and religious differences for the sake of love.
As many of us know, finding love in times of peace — among members of our own community that speak the same language — is difficult enough. Now multiply those difficulties by adding a war and socio-cultural barriers, and one may begin to understand the overwhelming obstacles one faces in attempting to marry someone during times of war.
The beauty of these stories of American soldiers, both men and women, finding love on the battlefield is that it speaks to the timeless and transcendence of love. As human beings, some would argue that we are physiologically wired to desire the experience of love, to fall in love, and to share our feelings within a social setting. In short, we are social beings.
The biological necessity that must propel the soldiers to seek love while acknowledging their own mortality and while inhabiting a foreign land with foreign customs deserves its own rigorous scientific research. What is certain is the ability to overcome the horrors of the battlefield for an opportunity, fleeting though it may be, to feel and to share love.