The story

She'll never forget the day her 17-year-old son, John, asked her permission to enlist in the U.S. military. "Mom, I owe this to my country."

Now, at age 19, her son is a Marine preparing to deploy to Iraq.

"He doesn't care if you do or don't understand his choice; he isn't concerned with political views, religion or race. His greatest concern is doing the job he is asked to do with skill and pride, protecting those abroad and at home and standing up to the standards he has set for himself," Samantha Schroeder said.

iReporters shared an array of stories about how the Iraq war has affected them over the past five years.

One man said he met his wife, a fellow service member, while serving in Iraq. Read full article »

Shock & Awe: Five Years Later
CNN's award-winning reporters are on the ground in Iraq. Anderson Cooper brings you to the front lines as only CNN can.
Thursday, 10 p.m. ET

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