[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/09/hurt.locker.bigelow/art.locker.bigelow.courtesy.jpg caption="Kathryn Bigelow on the set of Oscar-winning film 'The Hurt Locker'."]
CNN Senior Political Contributor
This past weekend, Iraq had a real election and in spite of threats and bombings, millions of voters participated in record numbers. It is a giant step forward in Iraq's road to democracy and has the potential to be a beacon for others in this battle-scarred region.
Even though all the details of the new government will take months to work out, step one, free elections, was a major accomplishment, and the people of Iraq should be very proud. They have paid an enormous price in the deaths and injuries of their fellow citizens and loved ones. Some may never recover from the financial ruin caused by the loss of their homes and destruction of their neighborhoods.
Every citizen has been affected in some way by the last eight years of war. But to many, and especially Iraq's young people, a stable and peaceful future is now a potential reality with their own peacekeepers in place and a functioning government.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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