EDITORIAL: Don’t forget residents who served, died in Afghanistan
On the morning of Sept. 14, 2001, three days after the World Trade Center crumbled before our eyes, the U.S. Senate voted 98 to 0 in favor of “a joint resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”
That night, the House of Representatives voted 420 to 1 in favor of the same measure with only Rep. Barbara Lee voting no.
And so Operation Enduring Freedom, later known as Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, rightly or wrongly began in Afghanistan.
“After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces (from Afghanistan),” President Biden said Monday.
The cost of the war is in some ways measured by time - it lasted 20 years and in dollars - an estimated $2 trillion.
The human cost is more difficult to measure.
What happens next for people living under the now firm control of the Taliban remains a terrible uncertainty. Those that managed to flee also face tremendous difficulties as refugees in foreign lands.
But we do know the lives already lost.
According to the Associated Press, 2,448 American service members were killed in Afghanistan through April of this year.
The list of the dead also includes 3,846 U.S. contractors; 66,000 Afghan national military and police members; 1,144 other allied service members, including from other NATO member states; 47,245 Afghan civilians, 51,191 Taliban and other opposition members; 444 aid workers; and 72 journalists.
The total number of dead connected to South Carolina has not been fully compiled, but the state’s National Guard does keep a running list of its members killed while serving overseas.
It lists the following members as those killed in Afghanistan:
Sgt. Stephen High, 45
Spc. Chrystal Stout, 23
Sgt. Edward Philpot, 38
Staff Sgt. James Bullard, 28
Sgt. Shawn Hill, 37
Sgt. David Leimbach, 38
Staff Sgt. Willie Harley, 48
Sgt. Luther Rabon, 32
Sgt. John David Meador II, 36
1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30
1st Lt. Trevarius Bowman, 25
These service members did not vote for the resolutions passed in 2001. Consider that 1st Lt. Bowman would have been just about six years old when the towers fell.
Yet, they went to a place they had likely never seen to serve their country.
Reprinted with permission from The Packet of Hilton Head and the S.C. Press Association.