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Today is Afghan Soldier’s Day

On Afghan Soldier’s Day, an opportunity to pause and reflect on the continuing struggle against oppression in Afghanistan.

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Afghan Soldiers' Day

At a small office in northern Virginia, far from our homes and families in Afghanistan, my fellow Afghan veterans and I are celebrating the courage and sacrifice of our countrymen.

On February 27, 2017, former president of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani dedicated February 27 as Armed Forces Day. Ceremonies and events were held to honor the service of some 350,000 Afghans who fought to defend a new Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Seven years later, and less than three years since our government fell to the Taliban, “Soldier’s Day” is no longer celebrated in Afghanistan. For those of us forced to flee the country, we celebrate this day in exile.

We did not merely lose our government when the Taliban swept through Afghanistan in 2021. The dreams of countless young men and women were lost, too. Many of my countrymen, including former soldiers in the Afghan National Security Forces, have sought refuge in neighboring countries. They fled oppression and violence inflicted by the Taliban. Unfortunately, their circumstances remain dire as they struggle to find new homes and face mistreatment in their host nations.

Wearing the military uniform was a badge of honor. Like young Americans who courageously volunteer to fight for their country, defending Afghanistan was ingrained in our very beings. Each morning, we rose with determination to defend peace and stability in our nation, allowing our people to live free from the ravages of war and oppression.


But we were unsuccessful.

Unbeknownst to us, an extensive scheme was unfolding behind the scenes. Others were deciding our fate. The outcome of these decisions rendered meaningless the sacrifices made by more than 200,000 soldiers who died fighting the Taliban.

I remember celebrating Soldier’s Day in 2020 while stationed in Helmand Province. My four-year-old daughter, Angel, called from faraway Kabul Province and asked me to come home. When I arrived to surprise her on Soldier’s Day, there was joy in being reunited with her, and so much pride in wearing the uniform of my country. I cherish this memory. Four years later, such moments of warmth and surprise seem distant as I mourn the loss of my military uniform, my country and the joy of being with my wife and children, who remain in Afghanistan.

We lost many things but have kept our faith.

Today, let us honor the memory of our fallen friends and comrades in Afghanistan. Let us strive to uphold the values they bravely defended. Though our paths have diverged, the Afghan soldier’s commitment to peace and justice remains the same. May we never forget the sacrifices made in the name of country and freedom, and may the legacies of Afghan soldiers inspire future generations to strive courageously for a world free from conflict and oppression.


This article was originally published by RealClearDefense and made available via RealClearWire.

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COL. Parwani is an officer in the Afghan National Army and a member of the Afghanistan United Front, which seeks to return Afghanistan to constitutional order so that Afghans can enjoy freedom, peace and prosperity.

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John J. Waters graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He served in the Marine Corps on deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He lives with his family in Nebraska, where he was born.


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