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I’m a Marine veteran: The situation in Afghanistan just crushes me.

U.S. Marines at an Evacuation Control Checkpoint (ECC) at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 21, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla)
August 26, 2021

This article was originally published at Stanley M. Herzog Foundation‘s The Lion and has been republished with permission.

When I constantly hear how bad America is thanks to an agenda-driven media, I always think back to the humanitarian missions I took part in as a Marine. We dug wells to provide clean water to village children to prevent disease, provided security for UN food drops in Indonesia after the tsunami, built schools in the Philippines, and stood in the middle of a street mid-day to secure the safety of Iraqis during their first democratic election. 

As I watch the situation in Afghanistan, it just crushes me. 

So many American men and women gave their life, limbs, and sanity to bring freedom to the Afghani people, only to have it reduced to scared civilians fleeing the Taliban while clinging to an Air Force transport. This was the departure from a failed 20-year policy due to blatant lack of commitment to the mission, the Afghani people, and those who sacrificed. The latest tragedy—at least 12 U.S. servicemen and women killed and 15 more wounded—was a direct cause of failed leadership and abandonment of American values. 

Every American is fortunate to be born in a relatively safe, free country where anyone can make their own way, and be their own person. America is the greatest civilization the world has ever known, and has brought unseen happiness, security, and wealth to more people than ever before. This provides some perspective for some Americans who have never experienced adversity close to what the average Afghan is experiencing. Hopefully it provides a wake up call to any Americans who feel entitled and demand things they have not earned. Someone please look a citizen of Afghanistan in the eye and ask them if they would switch places with you and see what their answer is.

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J. J. is a revenue operations consultant in the Midwest. Raised on a farm in Missouri, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1999. He served eight years as an infantryman, close combat instructor, and Marine Corps Scout Sniper Team Leader. He deployed multiple times to Iraq, where he earned several combat valor and leadership medals, and also to Indonesia following the 2004 Tsunami.