Wednesday, April 7, 2010

US Troops Celebrating Easter

Ever since I learned we were going to have to contribute to the Afghanistan Blog, I knew I wanted to cover American soldiers.  I didn’t want to cover them in a traditional way.  I wanted to find coverage that portrayed them as American citizens in Afghanistan.  At first I thought this was going to be difficult, but since Easter was Sunday, finding a humane piece about our soldiers was easier to find.

My neighbor’s fiancé has already served twice in Afghanistan.  The reason he is not going back for a third time is because of medical leave.  Whenever I am home, I find myself talking to him.  I asked him what the worst part of being stationed in Afghanistan was.  He always says that he hates spending holidays in Afghanistan.  He hates the holidays not because he misses home, but because he feels like an outsider.  He says it’s a surreal feeling to celebrate a Catholic holiday in a Muslim country. 

Since we’ve started this class, I’ve started reading CNN’s Afghanistan blog, called Afghanistan Crossroads.  The purpose of the blog is to bring a diversity of voices to the reporting of the occurrences in Afghanistan.  It has made me more informed about what has been occurring in Afghanistan.  When I was looking for an article, I immediately went to this blog.  I clicked on the tag for troops and came across this video of US troops celebrating Easter:

I think most citizens, whether American or Afghan, forget that the soldiers are real people with morals, values, and faith.  Yes, it’s strange to see people attending church in uniform rather than in suits and dresses, but some balance is reached because they do not enter the church with their weapons. 

I found it sad when the woman soldier said that most people forget it’s Easter.  This means that they must lose track of the days while stationed in Afghanistan.  In the United States, the calendar revolves around holidays, which gives people something to look forward to.  When stationed in Afghanistan, the troops often forget when a holiday is approaching because they do not have reminders.

It was ironic when the sergeant was talking about being Christian on Islam soil.  It seems he agrees with my neighbor’s fiancé that you have to be careful when celebrating your own religion.  The sergeant mentions that troops have to be mindful because interpreters and other Muslims who may not believe in the same things that they do surround them.

Another interesting point of view a lieutenant brings up is a comparison between Christians celebrating Easter in Afghanistan and Muslims celebrating Ramadan in the United States.  He says that a holiday shouldn’t be more or less important to someone because of where they celebrate it.  It should have the same importance because it is part of the faith.

I think this video makes us realize that the men and women fighting in Afghanistan are people’s sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters.  I admit I sometimes forget about the people fighting for us.  I just read stories about the current war and look for details of events.  It is difficult for me to put faces to the soldiers I read about because I do not know that many people fighting overseas.  I think many Americans feel this way, as well.  Viewing and reading stories about soldiers during holidays makes me feel closer to them.   It makes me feel grateful that I can celebrate Passover comfortably, while the soldiers are celebrating their respective holidays overseas in a nontraditional way.