Keep up with this story and more What is striking about the Iraq War is not that couples have met and fallen for each other and succeeded like Jimmy and Lena in getting married. State Department records show that after more than four years of occupation, only about 2,400 visas have been granted to Iraqi spouses and fianc? Many of the Iraqis interviewed for this story asked that only part of their names or their nicknames be used to identify them, fearing that their families still in Iraq or living as refugees might be targeted.Those couples living in Baghdad are even more afraid.
He warned away neighbors challenging the Ghadeers' claim to a house that Saddam had confiscated. But such age gaps are common among Iraqi couples, and he was tall and fair—Lena still talks about his blue eyes—and he was kind.
They had known each other less than a month, less time than it had taken for America to conquer Iraq, when he asked her to marry him.
Every one of them has seen the clash of civilizations up close and personal.
This is not just a different kind of war, it's also a different kind of American military than existed 40 or 50 years ago—one that may talk about engaging hearts and minds, but spends many of its resources trying to keep them at a distance.
Then in 2003, soon after she took her degree, the countdown began to yet another war."We knew this was going to be the end. You could see it in people's faces," says Zena, who has grown into a raven-haired beauty.
On the receiving end of shock and awe, Zena lived through 20 days of constant terror.But in Iraq there's hardly any human contact at all that isn't at the point of a gun.In 2003 and early 2004, when many of these love stories began, Iraqis and Americans could relate as people do anywhere, looking each other in the eye, shaking hands, sometimes holding hands."We didn't know what these soldiers were going to do.We just tried to hide, especially the women and kids.Such romances have been part of the American way of war for as long as anyone alive can remember. "War brides" (and a handful of grooms) came to the United States from Britain and Australia, Italy, France and eventually Germany and Japan.