About the Author: Wendy Kolls serves as an Assistant Press Officer at U.S. Embassy Kabul in Afghanistan.
U.S. Embassy Kabul was up early this Veterans Day to join the Congressional Delegation (CODEL) of Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Kirsten Gillibrand in a ceremony hosted by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.
A large crowd of U.S. Embassy Kabul employees gathered to honor U.S. veterans, filling the plaza in front of the New Chancery. Dozens of U.S. Marines stood in formation next to the stage, while the sun was just rising on a clear November day in Kabul. Everyone stood for the National Anthem, and then Ambassador Eikenberry and all four senators, on a stage set up next to the flagpole, paid tribute to our men and women in uniform serving our country around the world--and especially those in Afghanistan, who are currently fighting in a war, risking their lives every day.
"As we come together this Veterans Day, I'd like to begin by taking a moment to remember those who served before us honorably and nobly -- our comrades, our colleagues and our friends who have given their lives for the United States of America," Ambassador Eikenberry said.
They also thanked all the many civilians who are serving alongside the military in Afghanistan, who are also thinking of loved ones back home, and who also serve in dangerous conditions every day, noting that civilians as well as soldiers respond to the call to serve, as Senator McCain emphasized, "We have to love our freedom, not just for the private opportunities it provides but for the goodness it makes possible. We have to love it as much, even if not as heroically, as the brave Americans like you who defend us at the risk and often the cost of their lives. We must love it enough to argue about it and to work together to serve its interests in whatever way our abilities permit and our conscience requires -- whether it calls us to arms, altruism or to politics."
A large group of international and Afghan journalists and TV cameras were lined up facing the stage, eager for the opportunity to film the special occasion. Even though the CODEL had just a few minutes left before getting to their Blackhawks for the next part of their trip, they stayed long enough to meet and greet the long receiving line of U.S. Embassy Kabul's civilian and military personnel and to pose for photographs, which will be a nice token for the folks back home.