Mr. Speaker, this year in January, I had the honor to go to Iraq for their first elections in history for a democracy. Iraq is where the world began, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Myself and Congressman CHRIS SHAYS of Connecticut were the two Members of Congress that were in Iraq on election day.

You remember, Mr. Speaker, those were the times when the skeptics and the terrorists said, Oh, there won't be an election. The Iraqis won't do it. They won't go and vote. Yet they did. Sixty-one percent of those people went and voted.

While there, I learned a lot from the Iraqis. I learned, first of all, they are a very proud people, that they are somewhat underestimated about their ability to have and believe in a democracy. I also learned that those people are just like us and all people in the world, because, Mr. Speaker, down in our soul, where we are made, every person has the yearning to be free. The Iraqis are no different than Americans or other peoples in the world.

I also learned, Mr. Speaker, that they will not be intimidated by the terrorists. The terrorists in January told the Iraqis that if they go and vote, they will be killed. They were told that if they were seen with that purple finger, they would be killed. Yet the Iraqis voted. They willingly stuck their finger in that inkwell and stained their finger for several days. I remember here on the House floor where many of us stood when the President of the United States in his State of the Union message talked about those Iraqi people and how we stood defiant as well as those people with our finger in the air, showing that freedom will prevail and rule the day.

Mr. Speaker, this has been an interesting year for the Iraqi people. They started a country in January with their Parliament. They then elected a Prime Minister, a President. They wrote a constitution, they voted on it, and they have all done it in less than 10 months. Remarkable. We sometimes forget history. We forget our own history that it took us 13 years after 1776 to get our Constitution. In fact, only nine States ratified it at first, and the two big ones, New York and Virginia, were late comers to the table. In fact, North Carolina did not ratify it until the next year and Rhode Island took 2 more years to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Not all Americans supported the Constitution. One of my favorite Revolutionary War people, Patrick Henry, did not believe that the new Constitution should be ratified. He believed in a stronger State instead of a Federal Government.

We sometimes forget our own history and we sometimes sell the Iraqi people short as many people have done this year. Those people, the Northeast elites and the west coast Hollywood leftists, said it would not happen, that the Iraqis would not have a government this year. But they did. Maybe those folks seem to be somewhat disappointed that the Sunnis, the Kurds and the Shiites all came to the table and voted for this Constitution. Those Northeast elites and those west coast Hollywood leftists were the same ones who said that we couldn't help Germany and Japan in World War II. We fought those two countries, those two regimes of totalitarian states, but the United States went in and set up democracies in both of those countries. Now those countries are not only free but they are world powers and they are our allies.

And what if it happens? What if Iraq and Afghanistan do the same thing that Germany and Japan did, become world powers, become democracies and, more importantly, become free and our allies?

Mr. Speaker, democracy is the enemy of terrorism and freedom is the enemy of anarchy, and the people are the enemy of dictators. The United States in its history has gone to war numerous times, but we go to war not to conquer but to liberate. We go to war not to enslave but to set free. And so our troops that I met with in January and the troops that are serving there today are serving a purpose in Iraq. I have talked to them and they are proud that they are able to represent the United States and fight the war on terror. But they are also proud of the fact that they are setting up a democracy in that land far, far away.

Mr. Speaker, history will look favorably on our role in Iraq and Afghanistan. History will record what amazing people these Americans were. It will be a good time in history for the United States and the Iraqi people.

Mr. Speaker, freedom once again has ruled the day.