‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
The above two Biblical verses come to my mind as I think of friends, neighbors, and strangers who served in Afghanistan over the past twenty years.
Following 9/11, U.S. forces were sent to Afghanistan and elsewhere in the global war on terror. Given the events of this past weekend in Afghanistan, I want to write this article specifically to our veterans. This is a time, in the face of recent events, to call out our veterans and active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard to give thanks.
There is a quote that states, “a veteran is someone who, at one point in their life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount up to and including their life.” The author of the quote is unknown.
Veterans (and active-duty personnel) are people who enlisted to serve our nation for a variety of reasons. Many were deployed to Afghanistan over the past 20 years, some repeatedly. 2,448 were killed. Brown University estimates between 66,000 and 69,000 Afghan army and police were killed in the same 20 years.
Now, the US is in the process of evacuating. I’m writing this as I try to come to terms with our sudden departure from Afghanistan coupled with the total and sudden victory of the Taliban forces, we fought for 20 years. Some are experiencing a whole mixture of emotions ranging from frustration, anger, depression, failure, relief, and much more. I remember when Osama Bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals on a mission in Pakistan. At our home we would end every night with a time to hear our kids’ favorite part of the day, lessons learned, and what they wanted to pray about. When it came to prayers, they often wanted to pray for a friend at school whose dad was in Afghanistan or Iraq. When Bin Laden was killed their friends were relieved because that meant the war was over and dad was coming home! That was 10 years ago, May 2, 2011.
To all who served in Afghanistan I want to say thank you. You made a difference. You fought terrorists and saved countless lives. You made a difference for the Afghan people and for people around the world. You held the line and accomplished all that you were ordered to do and much more. You can be proud of your service. Thank you!
I have had several conversations with Veterans who served in Afghanistan this week. If you’d like to talk, you can reach me at (907) 479-7998. Please pass this article along to Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Rev. Stephen Reed is the Pastor at St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall and the Chaplain for Police and Fire.
Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on August 20, 2021
Married 25 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting