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'Never forget': Remembering those who answered the call after 9/11

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When I stepped off of the C-17 onto the Kandahar Airfield tarmac back in 2017, I unexpectedly encountered a little-known but moving memorial that honored our country’s fallen. It sat tucked away in the reception hangar, and captured my attention as I made my way to the back to pass through customs. 


It wasn’t any sort of loftiness or grandiosity that made it so moving, but its simplicity. It was a long, billboard-like bulletin board, upon which were pasted thousands of photos of fallen service members. The pictures were neatly organized into a large grid, and under each photo was the service member’s name. The pictures sat in chronological order by date of death, illustrating the sum total of American sacrifice overseas since the beginning of the Global War on Terror. And as with the photos of two fellow paratroopers who had just recently lost their lives a little over a month earlier, additions were made as they regretfully became necessary.

“Never forget,” the memorial reminded my company, using words with a significance that older Americans may understand. I fear they may not bear the same significance for the post-9/11 generation, those 18-year-old service members now walking through that same hangar in southern Afghanistan as they begin their own combat deployments.:snip:

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