From a Florida Army National Guardsman.
As we're finishing up, there's yet another gunshot from very close, around the corner from where we had dismounted for a quick check of the area. We gather at the corner, but there are no follow-up shots, so we head back to base.
In general, Baghdad seems to me to be better than it was two months ago, despite the rise in bombings. Many of the huge mounds of trash are cleaned up, the curbs repainted, less gunfire at night. The endless gas station lines are much shorter, the traffic snarls less intense and there's more electricity at night, although still far from enough. Most importantly, the Iraqis of Al Wasiria seem to like these Americans, often calling out to them by name as they're on patrol.
There's a lot of contact between the Americans and the Iraqis in this sector. Staff Sergeant Christopher Blackwell of Pensacola is engaged to marry a local woman, a doctor, whom he met when she showed up to ask the battalion for help with a problem. Blackwell first asked her family for permission, then converted to Islam (for both, more of a technicality than a religious issue, though Blackwell versed himself in the Koran). They're waiting for a civil judge to perform the ceremony. Since the invasion there have been some 30 marriages between Americans and Iraqis.
This is a good piece, read the whole thing.