The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

TO THE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN |

May 23, 2007

TO THE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN
Name: SGT Brandon White
Posting date: 5/23/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Diamond, OH
Milblog url: www.gwot.us
Email
: soldierboy101st@yahoo.com


Yes, yes. It’s that time of year, time for the obligatory ‘Reflection Post’. You’ve seen them on the milblogs of other soldiers soon leaving theater. They usually contain words such as, “Hope” and “Sustainment” and “Commitment”. They’ll reflect on the good things that they have accomplished and lament the things that could have been. Well I thought I’d try something different for my ‘Reflection Post’. Instead of boring you with the non-complexity that has been my tour, I will instead write an open letter to the people of Afghanistan, who on all accounts are what this fighting-for is really all about.

Dear Afghan Citizens,

It is with a greater respect and better understanding of your culture that I write to you on this day. You and your fellow citizens of this war-torn nation have endured, and on many accounts have overcome, the perils which have been brought upon you since your nation’s inception. During these past few years in which your nation has been occupied by the armies of many other nations, it has been easy for many to see the aspects that you value most in your daily lives.

Things like family commitment, high morals, courage, and a strong work ethic all transcend any lines of religion that may exist. Qualities like these are what will ensure a stable journey as your nation marches toward a better future in this 21st century. In these past ten months, I have been truly awed and inspired at the strength and character that embodies being an Afghan citizen. Many of you are poor. You come home after a 15-hour day working the wheat fields only to learn that a close family member has been kidnapped by the Taliban or even slain by them. Perhaps you own a small shop in your village and have stood by with your weeping family as you watched criminals wearing police uniforms ransack your meager wares and take off with everything that sustains you and your family.

You somehow manage to gather yourself and begin picking up the pieces. Maybe you ask yourself, “Where are the Americans? Why can’t they stop this from happening?” Your neighbor, who lost his family to a roadside bomb, informs you that the Americans are nearby, in the next village, handing out clothing and school supplies. After consoling an angry wife who is now worried about how you can support her, you look past your pride and seek help for your family. You decide to take your family to the Americans to get what you can. You may have no vehicle so you and your family walk, only to get there in time to see the Americans leaving.

Occurences like these only scratch the surface of what life is like in many parts of your great nation. When all is said and done though, you endure and drive on with a renewed spirit and determination with only one goal in mind -- to keep living the life which has been given you. We Americans can sympathize with you in some regard; in my nation’s short history, we have certainly had our share of strife and turmoil. We wish whole-heartedly to give you a life without fear, a life of freedom and relative safety and comfort. Our presence here has nothing to gain except for your hopeful respect and bringing another nation into the international community.

Take with you these words of compassion for fellow human beings and do know that a brighter path already shines forth. The Taliban has lost their foothold in your society, and with your strength and yours alone, they are not able to return to power. I hope one day to return to your nation to see for my own eyes the good that my fellow soldiers and I, working in coordination with you, have done. Until it is so, I bid you good luck and farewell.

Comments

Dear Brandon, Congratulations on finishing your tour. Your words are full of hope for the outcome of your personal war and the people of Afghanistan. Would that all our enemies heed you. There is no clear solution for those people. You cannot change their religion. They don't think with open minds for new ideas.
Good luck.

Good words, well written. from your mouth to God's ears.

SGT White,
Great writing to the people of Afganistan. Maybe they will one day be free and realize what you all have done for them.
Welcome home!

"There is no clear solution for those people. You cannot change their religion. They don't think with open minds for new ideas". Maureen you have read what Brandon has said and yet you presume to tell him the nature of the Afghan people he has come to respect and admire and to know first hand. I wonder who it is that has the closed mind here?

Brandon this was beautiful and very moving. I am so glad that you have looked beyond the sterotypical concept of a people who are in many ways so different but yet who share so many similar human aspirations to those that exist in our own hearts. Thank-you for sharing this tribute to an indomnible people. Thank-you as well for your service and I am so grateful to be able to send a heartfelt welcome home, job well done your way.

Thank you for your comments. I have indeed come to respect people from the Middle East. In the 2 years (total) I have spent in Iraq and Afghanistan I have learned of unfounded stereotypes of some of the kindest people you will ever meet in your life. My enemy is separate from the people.

Thanks for your service and your time in the Middle East. If the words you spoke to those who came in contact with during your service are as genuine as those you have written here, you have truly made a difference in our world - probably more than you will ever know.
Blessings and safe trip home soldier!

Dear Brandon, When I commented about their religion, it was because their women cannot have a voice in their future. The men keep the women subservient. Until the women of Ireland stood up to be counted, Northern Ireland was a bloodbath. Sorry if I didn't make my position clear.

Dear Brandon, When I commented about their religion, it was because their women cannot have a voice in their future. The men keep the women subservient. Until the women of Ireland stood up to be counted, Northern Ireland was a bloodbath. Sorry if I didn't make my position clear.

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