I had the honor to serve with the United States Armed Forces from the early age of 16. While on the frontlines, I was introduced to Americans who were united in their objectives, not divided by political parties or race. It was one united nation combatting global terrorism and it was that power of patriotism that I learned from many brave soldiers.
I fought in the field with Special Forces, trained Afghan Security Forces, and advised leadership on counterinsurgency strategies to help the U.S. government rebuild Afghanistan, while engaged today in helping to advance the political settlement, teaching both American and Afghan diplomats and negotiators. Leaving school to serve alongside the U.S. military was my decision and it has become my passion to fight terrorism, like many other brave men and women I have come to feel a kinship with.
As well, this day brings pleasant memories at the light-hearted jokes about me being a young teenager to patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan, seeing brave soldiers frightened by scorpions, to convincing the newly deployed forces to try the local food. I would interpret funny local jokes into English only to realize no one was laughing but me.
While living in the United States, I sensed something different. Some citizens take basic things for granted and use political agendas to divide the country. It should not be forgotten that the founding fathers built this nation on the core virtues of lasting tolerance and peace — a strong and united role model for the world.
This day is a reminder to remain strong, united and forever determined until we win the fight against extremism and global terrorism. Many heroes sacrificed their lives to protect us including three of my good friends, both Afghan and American. The willingness to fight and sacrifice for democracy, the protection of citizenry, family and homeland are what makes a veteran.
We should all be proud of our loved ones and friends that have lost their lives for America and the vulnerable people of the world. It is hard to outlive the ones we love and remembering their heroism is vital.
Today is not about arbitrating whether war is right or wrong, necessary or unnecessary, who is to blame or not to blame — it is about honoring the brave men and women who served to protect the United States of America and its commitment to democracy. It is about honoring those who have sacrificed their lives to combat terrorism and keep all of us and our way of life safe. It is about sharing condolences and supporting the families who have lost heroic loved ones. May they rest in peace!
Today is a special day to remind all of us that Veterans serve the homeland without regard for partisanship. For this day, this year, the country needs to put aside its divisions, join hands, stand up wherever you are at 11:00 am and honor all who lost their lives for us.
May this day remind us that unity is our victory – being different is our beauty and diversity makes us strong.
Use this day to combat various forms of violent extremism – from lone wolves on the domestic front, to organized insurgent and international terrorist groups that operate in all corners of the globe, from the Far East and the Horn of Africa to South America, and the Middle East, for extremism has no boundary.
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