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Did He Sacrifice His Life for Nothing: A Reflection on Afghanistan

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

On August 15, 2021 the free world received an excruciating gut punch when poor leadership opened the door to evil in Afghanistan. The shockwaves of lethal cowardice are still being felt as images of Afghan mothers throwing babies over walls and Afghan freedom fighters falling from planes plaster the media. We sit spinning in a world of chaos wondering what happened/what will happen next and feeling a sickening sense of betrayal toward suits in Washington.

How? Why? So much loss, so many years of patriotism and hope for people we have come to love. For twenty years American children forged through their lives bravely missing their dads and moms who served as teachers, builders and protectors in an arid land thousands of miles away. Parents were over working to secure a life of freedom and safety for other little kids. Our mission was clear. We could see why it was worth it. We sacrificed lives and hearts to strengthen a freedom hungry nation against tyranny. It was painstaking and in so many cases, it was heartbreaking. Christmases were celebrated over zoom and countless prayers were uttered for the safe return of these heroes. In nearly 2,500 cases, folded flags were placed in aching arms that longed to be holding their hero in a warm exquisite welcome home embrace instead.

The instant I heard the news I felt sick for my TAPS family. People I have grown to love so much who carry the ever present heaviness of the ultimate sacrifice now have something else to mourn, as do those who actually made it home. The mission, the why, went up in flames in the center of the world's stage as the Taliban eagerly took over the vacancy that was suddenly left.. In many cases, the biggest comfort of a mission and the end result of a strong self-sustaining Afghanistan was violently ripped away from those who have already suffered. The question so many are asking is “Was their sacrifice worth it?” Did they serve and die for nothing?

It’s easy to see lives lost in fighting as a waste. Was it?

I am angry at those seemingly untouched politicians and bureaucrats in Washington. I am angry with those who make self-serving calloused decisions motivated by power and greed. I am angry with those who put others in harm's way when they do not understand for themselves the bitter life altering experience of losing a hero. The injustice is cancerous and could easily destroy the soul.

Before getting lost down a black hole of hopelessness, look to those who are still in the trenches.

One of my heroes, Jennie Ashworth Taylor, Gold Star Wife and mother of 7 said “We can’t let it be a waste. We can’t let it go backward now. We can’t control everything, but at the end of the day, what are we doing as Americans back here to make sure that the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of men and women throughout American history are worth it? I hope Gold Star families hold their heads high and that they are proud of their loved ones every bit as much today as they were the day they died.”

Who did these American soldiers die for? How can we honor and continue their legacy?

The bad news is corruption in government is nothing new and is not likely to go away any time soon. My dad endured existing in a cesspool of corruption and poor leadership during his military service that ultimately set the stage for his tragic and unnecessary demise. Like so many of my TAPS family, no matter how the loss took place I find myself wondering if my dad’s sacrifice was a waste.

Jennie’s stance is beautiful and sobering. She does not make excuses for poor leadership. Instead, she invites us to rise and honor the legacy of our fallen heroes. We still have the right and power to fight for freedom and justice in our own ways. They signed up for a cause that meant something to them; a cause they willingly died for. Remember the people who mattered to our heroes-those they spent their days with encouraging, teaching and serving. Remember the freedoms that we have, that hang in the balance that they loved more than life. Those as well as dear ones at home were and are worth it to them.

Was it worth it? That’s up to us. Let’s make sure it was worth it!

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