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Independence Day in Afghanistan

This was written several hours ago, shortly after dawn local time, by one of the junior enlisted personnel on a PSD team in Afghanistan. It's a good op-ed, sent in an e-mail before rolling out on a mission that will keep him on the move for the next several days. Now, the Legalese - "the views of the writer may not necessarily reflect those of Military.com"...but don't let that stop you from reading it.

Afghanistan, Independence Day, 4TH of July...to us. I woke up this morning and I saw this and a very emotional feeling overwhelmed me. I knew I had to capture it.

Two of these flags are at half mast on Independence Day.

Over here it feels like just another day. Back home it's a day of music, BBQ, being with loved ones and friends; drinking, relaxing and of course my favorite - having a great time celebrating America's freedom with Chinese-made fireworks. It is a a day to celebrate the liberties we all have...the right to bear arms, the right to free speech, the right to freedom of religion. What we do not think about, all of us, are all the liberties we take for granted every day.

The drive-through line is too long.  At least we have a store to go buy fresh, quality food with a reasonable assurance the meat wasn't slaughtered right there in front of the store and hung by its feet waiting to be bought.

My day started badly. I didn't get my Starbucks espresso mocha latte grande cappacino. Well, to be fair, when you do get your faggacino you won't have to worry about the guy there on the street corner wearing the latest in suicide vest couture wanting to show you and your kids, or your parents or friends, just what the new features are and how they work.

This traffic sucks. Well, we that's true, but at least you don't need to be concerned that the guy three cars behind you, the product of a country with a literary rate well below 10%,  has a trunk full of HME, or that because he can't actually read the Koran himself he has no idea that killing himself and other innocent people around him might not actually be what Allah wants him to do.

Think about these things. They're liberties all of us have at home - over here, they don't exist. Not for the people who live here, not for the troops working among them. Our country was founded on the premise that each of us had a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (note: the pursuit of happiness, not a guarantee of it). Here we are, up to our ears in debt, borders leaking like a sieve, solvable problems afflicting us, and there are people just standing by and watching. They may talk about it, but that's all they do because either it's, Not their problem, or it's a matter of  What difference could I make anyway?

We Americans are frequently self-centered (by no means something unique to our country) and care little about what's going on elsewhere in their world. Sure, if it's headline news we're all over it, but the moment a bigger or better story comes along that recent world crisis slides off the radar and off to the wayside because that one Kardashian has a new line of clothes and hey, what's-her-name and Tom Cruise are getting a divorce and for the love of God, what about the children?

Same flags, a few weeks ago.

This evening, before we set off to celebrate without really reflecting on the true meaning of liberty, or with an America - F-#& Yeah! attitude, I WANT YOU to reflect on the picture of those flags. Look at those countries from around the globe helping us keep this big, confusing puzzle together.

Then think about the two flags that are half as today. The very same people we originally celebrated Independence from are today mourning the loss of one of their own, just like we are. Both were killed in the service of freedom.

For those of you who are actually willing to hang it out there and do something about it, in whatever way you choose, Thank you and Happy Independence Day.

Have a good day, Americans.

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