Fall of statue signifies fall of Saddam#039;s regime

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime could not have been symbolized any better than it was yesterday in the middle of Baghdad.

In Firdos - or "Paradise" - Square, U.S. Marines helped a gathering of Iraqis bring a 20-foot statue of the Iraqi dictator to the ground. Before the Marines lent their assistance,

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Iraqis had tied a rope around the statue's neck and pounded on its base with hammers. It was the most visible sign of Saddam's evaporating power to date.

As the towering statue was brought down, cheering Iraqis scaled the statue and danced upon the downed icon, ironically lying face down. As the statue fell, some threw shoes and slippers at the statue - a gross insult in the Arab world.

While the statue was still standing, Marines briefly draped an American flag on the statue's head and hung an Iraqi flag under its neck.

As U.S. officials say Saddam Hussein's regime is no longer in control of Baghdad, his fate is not yet known. But, judging by the celebrations in Baghdad, these people appear to feel Saddam's stranglehold is loosening, and are excited about their newly found freedom.

While most Iraqis are jubilant, some continue to fight. Because of this, the war in Iraq will wage on, but the occupation of Baghdad is a big step toward accomplishing the mission.

The liberation of Iraq, all along, has been the top priority of the U.S.-led campaign. Ending the reign of Saddam is in the best interest of America and the rest of the world, but it is most beneficial to the Iraqi people - those he has brutally tortured for decades. It will be awfully difficult for supporters of Saddam's regime to make it look as if those people rejoicing in the streets of Baghdad hate Americans as much as Saddam supporters have been saying.

As the Iraqi people exalted at their emancipation, their actions could best be described by the famous words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"