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SERWAN ZANGANA: We Remember 9-11 And The 13 Troops Lost In Afghan Withdrawal

September 11 was the day America was changed and we all grieved. I grieved, and all conscious people with a sense of humanity grieved. The tragedy of 9-11-2001 was neither an attack on the United States system nor a plot against some elite politicians. It was an attack on the entire humanity, civility, and peaceful diversity of America. The inflicted wound left a mark on the heart of the Americans and became stories of pain, bravery, and unity. The blend of tears and blood drew a tableau on the streets of New York City, at the Pentagon in Virginia, and on a farm in Pennsylvania while American souls were resisting the ideology of destruction. On that day, we all spoke one language, the language of grief and anger and at the same time we all found each other and embraced each other’s agony.

On that fateful day, I thought I was reliving one of my recurring nightmares from my past life living in Iraq in the 1980s, and being bombarded during the Iraq-Iran war, or running to hide during the civil war in Kurdistan between the various factions in the 1990s. I attempted to wake up because I did not want to see my past. Sometimes, I feel my nightmares are putting their hands on my neck and choking me but I resist by waking up. At that time, when I saw my heart was bleeding, running, and screaming with people, I realized I was already awake. The jolting news, New York City was under attack and the mix of blood, dust, and rubble have already changed the history of America.

As the dust of collapsed buildings covered people’s faces, we all became one color and realized that we are one race, Americans, with the same emotions and feelings. Our hearts had the same pulse and beat and we were one America that shook the world. The life and death had begun their battle. The towers were coming down and the streets seemed like they were folding up. It was a race of survival.

Yes, the buildings had fallen but the faith in America and the persistence of people, not the manipulation of the politicians, has further developed our lives. Again, America has been exalted and the song of hope and freedom returned. The definition of liberty is incomplete without mentioning America which is the land of revival. The attacks of 9-11 created a solidarity and established a firm connection among people. We cried, we wiped each other’s tears away, and we continued ascending. As the terrorists led to ruin and calamity, Americans led to rebuilding and peace, and the journey of pursuing happiness and equal opportunity has never stopped.

After 21 years since that day, we are still continuing the journey of life in America. The foreigner radical groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State were not able to cause permanent destruction and damage to the foundations of the United States. Obviously the Taliban’s fate was determined by the U.S foreign policy. In 2001, the Taliban was completely defeated and overthrown. Tragically, however, in 2021 they were returned to the power by the decisions of the U.S politicians. Clearly, we do not operate based on a rigid policy in the Middle East and Asia. Changing rules and directions of the U.S policy across the world should not surprise the U.S public anymore.

The story of valiant Americans will never end, and the definition of values and dignity is connected with the definition of U.S troops. Also, remembering the 13 soldiers who were killed during the haphazard U.S evacuation in Afghanistan in 2021 has became another chapter of our indignation. However, “giving up” has never on the agenda of heroes and it will never be.

– Serwan Zangana supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S army translator before coming to the U.S from Kurdistan, Iraq in 1997 to seek political asylum. He was granted asylum status and years later proudly became a U.S citizen. He currently serves as a correction officer in Roanoke.

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