This opinion column was submitted by RGJ columnist Sam Kumar, former Chairman of the Washoe County Republican Party.
August 31 marked the first day in nearly two decades without a US military presence in Afghanistan. Since the start of combat operations in 2001, nearly 2,500 US servicemen have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The most recent attack on August 26 killed 13 more, making it the deadliest since 2011.
Armed forces around the world are trained to neutralize the enemy, protect the nation and win. While the United States armed forces are better than any in history at taking down enemy targets, only the United States military has the compassion to save lives. There is no better testimony to this fact than the countless images we have all witnessed of Afghan mothers handing over their children to the United States armed forces. It is who we are as a country, and our armed forces reflect these values.
All 13 soldiers who died on August 26, 2021, and many more from the previous two decades, have died trying to save the Afghans. In her heartbreaking latest Instagram post titled “Kabul, Afghanistan: I Love My Job,” 23-year-old Nicole Gee, the fallen heroine of our neighbor Roseville, Calif., Cradles an Afghan child. Nicole is a Marine, but unlike the thugs we just allowed to take over Afghanistan, her happiness did not come from taking down enemy targets – which I have no doubt she was exceptionally good at – but from save the Afghan people and their children. Nicole truly embodies the spirit of the compassionate and caring American, and her parents should be proud. As Nicole’s friend Mallory Harrison wrote in his moving tribute, Nicole’s car is still parked in the parking lot at her base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. You should read Mallory’s Facebook post. If Mallory’s tribute to Nicole doesn’t break your heart, you don’t.
Nicole’s story is just one of 13 from this single attack. It is difficult to understand what these military families are going through. Your loved one enlists and the family is thrilled to serve this great country. Then they are deployed. They are away from the family for long periods of time. How many videos have we seen where a father comes home with a child who can barely recognize him? There is the inevitable stress on the spouse as he has to take care of all the needs of the family while the other half serves the country. Then the unimaginable: an attack like the one in Kabul. You know your loved one is there. You know the base has been hit. You know there are victims. You do not know if your loved one is one of these victims. Every knock on the door is a cardiac event. Every vehicle entering the street could be bad news. The sacrifices that members of the armed forces and their families make in the service of this country are immeasurable and we all owe them a debt that will never be paid.
One final point: thirteen of our best were killed in the suicide bombing at Kabul airport, eleven of which were from the Marines. There is no better way to end this column than by quoting the United States Marine Anthem: “… If the Army and Navy ever watch the scenes from Heaven, they will find that the streets are guarded by United States Marines ”. Those in Heaven should be honored to know that these 13 heroes of our nation will be the most recent to guard their streets for a long time. May God bless the families of the 13 heroes and their extended families, the armed forces of the United States.
RGJ columnist Sam Kumar is the former Chairman of the Washoe County Republican Party.
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