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Living with the threat of a suddenly thrown rock

Voting comes at a high price in Iraq

By Anderson Cooper
CNN

Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences covering news around the world. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports live from Iraq this week at 10 p.m. ET (0300 GMT).

Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper on location in Baquba, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- "Goddamned son of a bitch!" The soldier's shouting woke me up. I was riding in the back of a Humvee heading from Baquba to Baghdad when a rock nearly hit the gunner whose head was sticking out the roof. The rock was thrown by a kid, one of many rocks I saw being thrown.

I don't want to give the wrong impression, however. I saw dozens of kids smiling and waving at American soldiers, too. But sometimes, when the kids get in groups, they also throw rocks. There's not much you can do about it. You just have to keep driving.

In Baquba, a sandstorm almost blew us off the air this morning, but the weather broke just in time. It took us about five hours to get back to Baghdad. We'd hitched a ride on a Blackhawk to get to Baquba, but the storm grounded all the choppers. To get back, the military let us ride along on several different patrols.

The election was yesterday, but they are still counting ballots here. They will be for days. It's possible we won't know the results of the elections until sometime in January.

Watching people vote yesterday was very moving. It is one of those moments in my life I will always remember.

In the end it seems such a simple thing. People standing up, casting a vote, having a say. So simple, but here the price has been high.

Before I left Camp Warhorse today in Baquba, I once again stopped by what they call their "Wall of Heroes," pictures of the 29 members of the 3rd Brigade killed in Iraq.

They are all ages, all races, all Americans. Some smile in candid photos taken by their buddies. Some appear somber in formal portraits taken for ID's. All are silent. All are heroes.

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