By Kenneth Anderson, Director
Huntsville City Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
In August 2021, America’s longest war ‘ended’ with a painful reminder of how costly military conflicts can be right up until the end. As American service members assigned to support the final evacuations of citizens, civilians and allies (Operation. Freedom’s Sentinel) in Afghanistan, were engaged in one more act of heroism, an explosion just outside of the Kabul Airport took the lives of 13 of America’s best, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States Marines and the United States Army.
We were saddened by the tragic loss of these modern-day superheroes, and I was struck even more as I saw the ages of the victims, five 20-years old, three 22-years old, three 23-years old, a 25 and a 31-year old. I thought about the shared experience of these soldiers with so many others who served before them and are currently serving characterized through families, education, hobbies, passions, ambitions and the core value of service on behalf of our nation. I also thought about all that was lost by the deaths of these individuals and why it is so important that we never miss an opportunity to honor the sacrifices of those who have been part of the United States military across the years.
The vast majority of them will never be as well-known as McArthur, Eisenhower, Davis and Dunwoody, but all would have been given the incredible honor of protecting this nation from enemies within and beyond our borders and defending the Constitution. The history books are replete with records of courage and bravery in the face of tremendous obstacles, and award-winning movies and documentaries have re-created these stories showing the tenacious efforts exercised by the military in the fight to preserve freedom and democracy here and around the world.
Each year at Veterans Day, we honor the dedication to duty and honor reflected in the service provided through the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Space Force. In those instances where these men and women return home from various assignments or may retire after a career dedicated to the military, we have a responsibility to not merely thank them for their service but to make sure that they are shown every appreciation for that service by ensuring that they experience an excellent quality of life.