524th CSSB holds candlelight commemoration downrange

| September 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan — Soldiers with the 524th CSSB, 45th SB, 8th TSC, take part in a candlelight vigil remembrance ceremony, here, Sept. 11. (Photo courtesy 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 45th Sust. Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command)

CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan — Soldiers with the 524th CSSB, 45th SB, 8th TSC, take part in a candlelight vigil remembrance ceremony, here, Sept. 11. (Photo courtesy 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 45th Sust. Brigade, 8th Theater Sust. Command)

Capt. Jerry Garner
524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Soldiers from 17 different countries gathered for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the day that changed America and the world … and started a decade of war.

Chaplain (Capt.) Mark Mastin, 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, shared a solemn message of remembrance.

“There are some 37 million reasons to remember why we are here, in Afghanistan, continuing our mission of Operation Enduring Freedom with our coalition partners,” said Mastin.

Mastin listed five of those reasons:

•3,497 Americans directly and immediately died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

•2,135 U.S. Soldiers have died in Afghanistan from 2001 to Sept. 5, 2013. “This does not include the 19,250 U.S. Soldiers who have been wounded,” said Mastin.

•1,101 coalition soldiers from 29 countries that died. “We are forever grateful for our coalition partners, for they, too, have suffered and feel the same as we do about freedom and about our mission,” Mastin said.

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•An estimated 16,000 Afghan civilians who have died since 2006 and the thousands who have been wounded.

•37 million, the number of Afghans who now have an opportunity to experience and fight to keep real freedom.

Statistics are not what’s important, said Mastin. What really matters are the people, families and loved ones behind the numbers and statistics representing real human beings. The numbers represent fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and fallen American and coalition partners.

Throughout Mastin’s travels around northern Afghanistan, he speaks and listens to the local Afghan people. The people of Afghanistan asked him to share their message with America and all the nations working to improve the safety and security of their homeland:

“We are saddened for the loss of life. Their deaths were, and are not, in vain. We believe the time, money and efforts you have and continue to place into our country are not wasted,” Mastin said. “All of this has made a real difference in the quality of our lives. We are grateful for these efforts. What you have done for us cannot be measured or priced when it comes to freedom.”

Afghans told Mastin that when U.S. troops arrived, most of them had no running water or electricity, no Internet or cell phones, and where schools existed, there were militant elements preventing children from being educated.

“Thanks to you, we now have universities to attend and to study in for both men and women. We now know the truth of the peaceful and nonviolence message that our Holy Scriptures teach us, which was kept from us,” Mastin said the Afghanis told him. “We were told how to look, what to wear and where to go. We now know the positive direction we want to go.”

Mastin closed with a quote by William Faulkner: “We are not free because we claim freedom, but we are free because we practice it.”

(Editor’s note: Garner is the 524th CSSB’s adjutant; the battalion is currently part of Task Force Hannibal.)

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Category: Deployed Forces, News, Observances

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