There are more than 130,000 American troops serving in Iraq, along with many U.S. civilians, all helping to build the new democracy.
Among them was Andrea Parhamovich, 28, who was killed in Baghdad this week with three security workers when their convoy got caught in an ambush.
The Ohio native worked with the National Democratic Institute, whose mission is to help Iraqis participate in their new democracy.
Parhamovich was also expected to become engaged to Newsweek's Bagdad bureau chief, Michael Hastings, this spring. "She was here to help this society," Hastings said. "She was here to help in any way she could … to build a democracy."
She had been working with NDI in Baghdad since 2006 and helped Iraqi political parties reach out to voters. Hastings was expected to propose this spring and described Parhamovich as brave and fearless.
"She loved life. She had a magical quality about her," he said.
Parhamovich worked for Air America radio before she headed to Iraq, and her friends there remember her courage.
"I thought she'd have an office in the Green Zone, and as it turns out, she was conducting seminars or teach-ins for Sunni political parties in dangerous neighborhoods," said comedian and writer Al Franken, who worked with her at Air America. "That is as courageous as you can get."
"She wanted to make a difference in a positive way," said former colleague Jamie Horn.
"She sent me a jpeg of a rainbow that was hanging over Baghdad, and the irony … this vast war of darkness and death happening every day and then there's lightness … symbolic of what she was doing there," Horn said.
And that's how Parhamovich's friends will remember her too.