But to dwell here is to ignore the kind of sacrifice these 10 Marines, two soldiers, and a Navy corpsman have made. They were in the process of evacuating desperate civilians, US allies and their families, women and newborn babies from a country that was in imminent chaos and threatened tyranny. They tried to save these people with the power of their US imprimatur, their courage, their intelligence, their ingenuity and, to some extent, their weapons.
Their mission wasn’t to conquer a hill or fortify a city. It should be the individual links of a human chain, person for person, life for life, breath for strained breath, which leads to the open door of infinite possibilities: freedom.
The fact that they were killed and murdered while trying to save lives makes their loss exponentially worse. The Bible says, “No one has a greater love than that a man should give his life for his friends.” Take it further: no man has a greater love than that he should give his life for strangers.
The image of the marine sitting down and cradling a newborn Afghan child went viral, and the reason why is that it spoke to something deep within all of us that slumbered until tragedy: understanding that in the dark and terrible moments touching a person is the greatest weapon against despair and the strongest defense against disaster.
This image is emblematic of what the Marines and other warriors around the world have done in all collective war zones on this tortured planet. It’s not the shot of the soldier with dark glasses and in cammo with a gun around his shoulders.