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Home of the Brave
The Watchers on the Wall

The U.S. is rather uncertain about its place in the world nowadays, and despairing about its political system. It’s easy to fall into self-doubt. But on a holiday like this one, it’s comforting to recall how well we are represented by the ordinary people who carry out the nation’s bidding abroad. We’d like to share with you a piece from a few years ago written by a French soldier who served alongside Easy Company (the same unit as the famous “Band of Brothers”) of the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan:

On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark – only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered – everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump. Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley.

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all – always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later – which cuts any pussyfooting short.Honor, motherland – everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner.

We highly recommend you read the whole thing.

God bless America, and God bless and protect those that have kept her free. Happy Independence Day.

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