Small Wars Journal

For Those Who Served In Afghanistan

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 4:14pm



For Those Who Served In Afghanistan

By Keith Nightingale

OK.  Take a deep breath and put your mind in neutral. 

Yes-Afghanistan has fallen and we left a lot of blood there.

No-You and our combat casualties did not serve in vain.  You shined a light in some of the darkest places on the globe. You did your job. You supported righteous endeavors. You ensured tens of thousands of terrorists never died from old age.

You showed, for a brief shining moment, what American values are all about.

You did this in obscurity and without public note, but to those that witnessed, you made a difference that will resonate far past our absence.

You were an American displaying what we as a Nation are surely all about.

Above all else, you were supremely, demonstrably honorable.  Many others cannot say that.

You brought smiles to countless people who otherwise would have nothing to smile about.  For a moment in time.

The “agonizing reappraisals” can be left to policy makers, historians, and the American people. Not your job.

Rest easy, You, those that served, gave our dead and wounded meaning by your presence and participation in something greater than yourself.

You are and were our Praetorian Guard-providing purpose and pride to a Service in which many others, acting on a higher plane, could not match the honor.

You well served the small band of family you were with as your successors will wherever they are asked to serve. As they surely will.

Our Nation depends upon its well of citizens willing to serve for all of us, not just some of us.

Causes and policies will change, but the quality of your service will not and cannot.

That would be a betrayal to what serving is all about and for which we, the 99% who do not fight, expect.

Others may have cause for judgement. You do not.

We have no choice.

You do.

Rest easy.  You can sleep well. Some other citizens may not.    

                A Vietnam veteran

About the Author(s)

COL Nightingale is a retired Army Colonel who served two tours in Vietnam with Airborne and Ranger (American and Vietnamese) units. He commanded airborne battalions in both the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division. He later commanded both the 1/75th Rangers and the 1st Ranger Training Brigade.



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Hadji Murad

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 11:40am

Col Nightingale,

Thank you for saying what I could not. I wish every man and woman who put the uniform on in Afghanistan would receive a copy of this in the mail.

Thank you.

God Bless.