The War in Afghanistan is over. We watched the bleak reality of Taliban takeover happen before our eyes and the fall of Kabul all over the internet.
While America never achieved our biggest goals, we still did something for a lot of people. Afghan women enjoyed liberties and freedoms they never would have enjoyed before, for a time. Many young Afghans grew up in a land that offered many more promises, for a time. Even if the last 20 years were too short and our withdrawal inevitable, that was some time enjoyed by some people for some good.
It was still something.
When you navigate inevitable forces you have no control over, like war, and do good along the way, you mean something to someone. Whether that was to the soldier right next to you, the friendships you made on deployment, aid for a foreign citizen, or pride in your family and friends for your service, you meant a lot to us, to someone.
War became an environment just like any other environment out there. A natural force like a storm that you are forced to navigate. Forces you cannot control, but still have opportunities within them to do something.
If we travel down a river, we do not lament that we failed to change the river’s course. War becomes just as controlling as nature to the individual human.
Or like a massive bureaucracy you are navigating (the military being a perfect analogy) all you can do is fill out the paperwork, make your way, and if you run into someone looking for help, offer them help and advice. No one expects you to change the rules. All you can do is help the person next to you.
I know that feeling of helplessness can be overbearing, but that is because you want to do good in a world you cannot control.
For me personally, I do not know if I would have joined the military had there been no war. But my time in the military did bring me people like you. If that is something. And you had a tremendous impact on me. On my development as a man. On my development as an American citizen.
You taught me a lot and we met because of these uncontrollable supreme forces that brought us together. This uncontrollable nature of war.
There was and is devastation. Devastation you have no control over. But you still found time to teach me good. Where you had power to bring positive, you did so. In my life and I am sure in others.
So, as we navigate these rivers of destiny, fate, and geopolitical forces beyond our control, all you can do is do good where you can. You have proven that when you have the power to, you do something for good.
And for me and many others, with what time and power you did have, you did more than you realize.