Afghan President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter paid tribute to the men and women in uniform during a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns monument in Arlington National Cemetery. Yesterday, Secretary Kerry and Secretary Carter welcomed members of the Afghan government with an enhanced honor cordon at the Pentagon.
President Ghani thanked the Americans who have supported Afghanistan’s pursuit of peace and security:
"First of all, again, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who have done the ultimate sacrifice: 2,215 Americans have lost – members of the armed forces have lost their lives; numerous members of the Secret Service and civilians. They will be part of our enduring memories, and we pay tribute to them. Equally, over 20,000 American military members have been wounded in action. We pray for their recovery and we hope that their families will recover from the trauma."
"American troops – around 850,000 plus contractors -- have gotten to know us in ways that very few people have known our country. They know locations that most Afghans probably don’t. They served in the highest peaks, in the most difficult deserts, and the barest of places with the minimum -- with minimum support structures. But what they brought was a difference in attitude. We Afghans are fiercely proud, but we always know the difference between those who come in anger and those who come to support us."
President Ghani added, “This is a foundational relationship, and we are very proud that this relationship will be transformed into an enduring relationship.”
A wreath laying ceremony is marked by a high degree of ritual and joint service participation. A visiting head of state will pay formal respects to the sacrifice of America's veterans in foreign wars by placing a wreath before the Tomb.
About the Author: David Baker serves as a Desk Officer for Afghanistan at the Department of State. He served as an Army Captain in Afghanistan.
For more information:
- Afghanistan Country Page
- Fact Sheet:Strengthening the Strategic Partnership of the United States and Afghanistan
- Joint Press Availability With Secretary of State John Kerrry, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah
- U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Statement