Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11/12 in Kabul

This morning there was a brief ceremony outside the chancery commemorating the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It was a bit surreal to be standing in Afghanistan, the land from which those attacks were planned. The typical speeches were made and due solemnity was observed. The striking thing about this September 11 for me was the presence of our Afghan colleagues.

Afterwards, I asked one of our local staff how Afghans view this day and, in particular, the embassy's observance of it. With great diplomacy, he acknowledged the suffering Afghans have endured in the past 11 years, but also pointed out that for many, life now is better than it was under the Taliban. Not the same as a scientific poll, of course. But an interesting perspective from a young, educated Afghan man who was just a kid in 2001.

In the short time I've been here, I've met quite a number of impressive Afghans. I'm not claiming to understand the complexities of Afghan society, but I know more Afghans now than I did 5 weeks ago.  The friendly drivers who have been working for the embassy for years and who are always eager to practice their English. Seasoned businessmen who are establishing a semblance of an economy and free market. And young optimists who have returned to Afghanistan with the hope of helping rebuild their country.

There are some extraordinary people in this country and I'm proud that I'm working to support them. Will what we're doing here be enough? The answer to that is way above my pay grade. But now that I'm here, Afghanistan has become more than a name on a map associated with the most tragic day in my memory. It's a country of people with names and stories and hopes. Corny perhaps, but maybe I can be forgiven for being corny today.


Anonymous said...

Hi Heather..it is Auntie Beth sending best wishes across the miles! Caught up on your blog and appreciate you and all you do so much! Hope to see Mom and Dad for dinner tonight! Guess where? XxOo

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a thought-provoking piece. Thanks for all you do as a foreign service officer and thanks for sharing it with the world. Keep up the great work!
-PW (sitting on a register - waiting my turn.)

Heather said...

Thanks for your kind words, PW. That means a lot, especially after the events in Benghazi, Cairo, Yemen, etc.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we r watching the world and want you and all there to know we appreciate all you do and are trying to do! XxOoa