Christine Flowers: the Afghan tragedy a call to action
I come from a family of fighters.
My cousin Adolph was a parachutist who landed in Normandy on D-Day, and the parachute he used – stained with blood and dirt – was made into my cousin Helen’s wedding dress. My father spent two years in Thule Greenland, in a lost outpost in the North Pole during (no pun intended) the Cold War.
My Uncle Louie was a Marine, stationed in Beirut during one of the early crises of the 1950s, and my cousins Alex and Anthony served honorably in Vietnam. Last but not least, my brother Michael was stationed in Iraq during the prosecution of Saddam Hussein as a civilian employee of the Ministry of Defense.
France. Greenland. Beirut. Vietnam. Iraq. Postcards from the front lines, and some of my DNA. There is nothing more honorable than serving this country which has given so much and asked so little of the majority. But America has demanded this last full measure of the men and women, but especially the men, who have served in combat positions, and we only stop to consider the debt when tragedy occurs.
Last week, 13 US servicemen were killed by terrorist bombs in Kabul. They were not in active combat. They were doing something that adds spice to their mission: to help civilians escape the hell in Afghanistan created by the men in costume.
President Joe Biden is responsible for this, as are Donald Trump before him, and Barack Obama and George W. Bush, right down to Presidents and Senators who thought it was a great idea to arm the terrorists so we can come back. to the Soviets.
But to dwell on this is to ignore the nature of the sacrifice that these 10 Marines, two soldiers and a member of the Navy made last week. They were evacuating desperate civilians, United States allies and their families, newborn women and babies, from a country that had fallen into immediate chaos and looming tyranny. They were trying to save these people with the power of their American Imprimatur, their courage, their intelligence, their ingenuity and, to a certain extent, their weapons.
Their mission was not to capture a hill or fortify a city. They had to be the separate links of a human chain, person by person, life by life, breath by laborious breath, leading towards the open door of an infinite possibility: freedom.
The fact that they were killed, murdered, while trying to save lives, exacerbates their loss exponentially. The Bible says, “There is no greater love for a man than this, than a man gives his life for his friends.” Go even further: there is no greater love for a man who gives his life for strangers.
The image of the Marine sitting and cradling an Afghan newborn baby has gone viral, and the reason is that it spoke to something deep within all of us that lay dormant until tragedy happened: the understanding that in dark and terrible times, the touch of a human being is the best weapon against despair and the best defense against disaster.
This image is emblematic of what Marines and other warriors have been doing across the world, in all collective war zones on this tortured planet. This is not the shot of the soldier with dark glasses and in cammo with a rifle slung.
It is not the tragic picture of a bruised and bloodied fighter, alone on a hill.
It is the image of this Marine cradling the child.
Marines on Iwo Jima, hoisting the flag.
From every moment someone in uniform shows up to represent what this country has always meant, despite aroused opponents who slander the past with their twisted and evolved account of facts and events that never happened.
Those who died this week are an unbearable loss to their families, a horrific sacrifice in what many see as a failed campaign, a tragic reminder of the fragility of life and the toxicity of radical ideology.
But for me, above all, as I deal with the refugees who yearn to escape the maelstrom in Afghanistan, the dead represent the light that burns brightly in the hearts of generous Americans, the power of the human spirit against the nihilism of terrorists. and opportunists (often interchangeable) and hope.
May their memory be a blessing, an inspiration and a call to action. And may their death be avenged by our refusal to pay homage to tyrants.
Christine Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times in Philadelphia and can be contacted at [email protected]