HADITHA, Iraq – In one of the world's most heavily armed congregations, the prayers of U.S. Marines are changing. When the Navy chaplain in Haditha trades his Kevlar vest for a priest's alb, he hears less about surviving today's battle and more about the future.
"Many of them are concerned with trying to maintain that sort of relationship with their wives or girlfriends; that comes up. The second thing is their future — a lot of them are at that age where they are trying to decide what they want to do" said Chaplain Paul Shaughnessy.
There is time to think about that future now because the daily fighting is over in Anbar province, home of Fallujah, Ramadi and Haditha — what was once the most dangerous part of Iraq.
Where troops once couldn't move more than 100 yards without getting into a firefight, life has changed dramatically. Some Marines tell FOX News that in the past ten months they haven't fired their weapons a single time.
For some, there is a hint of frustration.
"Some of us want to go out there and you know destroy the enemy or kill the enemy. We're all actually glad that there is no more enemy," said Marine Sgt. Stephen Navarre.
The U.S. commander in the region says the enemy has departed because the Iraqi people allied themselves with the U.S., making a choice between those who blew up hospitals and those who built them.
"Like any insurgency, once the people turned you go from insurgency to a bunch of terrorists, and that's really where we are now," said Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, commander of Multi National Force-West.
Iraqis too see a future on what was once a battlefield, in cities now filled with builders, bakers and matchmakers.
But the most telling sign of Iraqi families' belief in the future here is that they are sending their daughters to school, something that could have gotten the girls shot in Anbar province just one year ago.