News: ISAF, ANSF memorial unveiled during ceremony in Kabul
Story by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade
KABUL, Afghanistan – An unveiling ceremony for the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Security Force memorial was held outside of ISAF Headquarters, Sept. 22, 2013.
Dignitaries of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, ANSF and ISAF service members gathered outside of the Headquarters ISAF doorsteps to honor fallen warriors during the memorial ceremony.
The memorial ceremony paid tribute to the sacrifices made by the courageous service men and women who lost their lives in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. ISAF and ANSF representatives from various regional commands were in attendance for the observance. The monument has inscriptions in English, Pashtu and Dari in honor of the fallen.
The outdoor ceremony began with the playing of the Afghan national anthem and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization hymn. After that, an Afghan National Army imam and the senior NATO chaplain conducted the service of sacrifice to remember the fallen.
“Today is the day we remember those who sacrificed their precious lives for us during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Today we remember those heroes and freedom fighters that paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and sound,” said ANA Brig. Gen Amin Nasib, chief of religious and cultural affairs.
Speaking from behind a podium Nasib pointed to the black and gold monument said the memorial will honor the brave men and women who put the needs of others before themselves and their families.
“Today we come together to recall those who bravely preserved and defended freedom, democracy and especially our common humanity,” said Nasib. “It is also a day for all of us to hope and pray that one day the true peace we all desire and that all mighty God desires for us will indeed come to pass.”
Nasib told the service members in attendance that on behalf of the Afghan armed forces he would like to thank all contributing nations serving as part of the ISAF team.
“Your dedication, sacrifice, commitment and especially the lives of your loved ones and compatriots, those who have paid the ultimate price to see this nation take its place amongst the free nations of the world the ultimate sacrifices will never be forgotten,” said Nasib. “Today I am proud and honored to be with you and to remember and honor the heroic sacrifices of those service men and women killed or wounded in military action in the effort of securing a free and prosperous Afghanistan.”
Following Nasib’s speech, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, the defense minister of Afghanistan addressed those in attendance. He began his speech by offering his condolences to the families to the fallen ANSF and ISAF service men and women, who unfortunately lost their lives in order to fight terrorism, and to help bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. He also mentioned that he wished a speedy recovery to the ISAF and ANSF wounded warriors.
He spoke about the progress and achievements in Afghanistan during the past 12 years. Mohammadi said military, civilian and governmental institutions have been established with the help of the international community.
“Millions and children go to school, provisions of medical care are expanding, more than 6,000 kilometers of roads have been paved and the Afghan economy is growing,” said Mohammadi. “Undoubtedly, the achievements are closely tied to the tireless efforts of ANSF, ISAF and the international community working together.”
Mohammadi said he admired the generosity and contributions and wished to thank ISAF members and the international community for their sacrifices. On a different topic he mentioned the enemies of Afghanistan have increased their violent activities during the last six months.
“The enemies’ objective was to regain lost territory and bring the achievements of the past 11 years under question,” said Mohammadi. “This is while the ANSF capabilities have increased.”
NATO is gradually pulling out troops from Afghanistan as ANSF assume the lead for security operations. Mohammadi said the enemies of Afghanistan thought the ANA by itself would not be strong enough to counter their attacks.
“Defeat of the enemy in the past six months has demonstrated the increased capabilities of the Afghan security forces,” said Mohammadi. “As a result of the tireless efforts of our forces, the enemies of Afghanistan took all of their objectives to the grave with them.”
He said the ANSF have kicked out the enemies of Afghanistan out areas where they used to control. Mohammadi said the key to success of the ANSF is the sincere cooperation of the Afghan public. He ended his speech by once again conveying his condolences to the families of ANSF and ISAF soldiers who have paid the ultimate price and lost their lives in order to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
“I would like to tell their families that their sacrifices will not be forgotten and it has been valuable both to the world and to Afghanistan,” said Mohammadi.
U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, spoke to the service members and GiRoA dignitaries next.
“A great leader once said, ‘Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead, and I will measure exactly the sympathies of its people, the respect for their land and their loyalty to high ideals.’ We are here today in the spirit of those words,” said Dunford. “We are gathered here to pause for a few minutes and reflect on our fallen coalition comrades and Afghan partners. We are here to pay respect to men and women who demonstrated loyalty to high ideals.”
Dunford said that the ceremony is a reminder of the cost of freedom. He said the fallen ANSF and ISAF service members made the ultimate sacrifice in battles throughout Afghanistan; all of their lives were tragically cut short.
“I don’t believe the focus today should be on how these men and women died; it’s how they lived that’s what is important. It is how they lived that makes us remember them,” said Dunford.
He said those individuals chose to be a part of something bigger than themselves; they chose to accept personal hardship and in many cases great personal risk in order to help bring peace to the people of Afghanistan.
“As we recall the names, the faces and the stories of the martyrs of Afghanistan, and the fallen of the coalition,” said Dunford. “I believe we should ask for God’s blessing on those who died and their families that were left behind.”
Dunford told the group that if they wanted to honor those who died, each of them should want to strengthen their personal commitment to the mission in Afghanistan.
“Each of us will prepare to be a part of a clear and unmistakable message to the enemies of Afghanistan that no act of violence, no act of terrorism will diminish our resolve to stand for what is right,” said Dunford. “If we walk away from this ceremony reminded that the cause of freedom requires sacrifice, if we walk away with a renewed sense of commitment to our values, if we walk away reminded of how important it is to defend those values, then I would offer that those who were taken from us prematurely will be able to look down and know, that their live had meaning.”
After the leader’s speeches, four wreaths representing the various elements of ANSF and ISAF were placed by GIRoA ministry representatives in front of the memorial. There was a two-minute moment of silence to remember the fallen, followed by a bugler playing Reveille.
The chaplain provided prayers of dedication and the ceremony ended with a bagpiper playing a traditional Piper’s Lament.
The monument will be permanently installed outside of ISAF Headquarters in remembrance of fallen ISAF, ANSF men and women who helped bring peace and stability to the people of Afghanistan.