Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Ramadan in Afghanistan

September 3rd, 2008 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Ramadan in Afghanistan:

Well the sliver of the moon was spotted the other night, which marked the beginning of Ramadan here in Afghanistan. What does that mean to the average non Muslim folks like you? Nothing in the States but here it’s a period of almost a month off for all the locals. See, from sunrise to sunset, they fast and pray, and by 12 noon, they start taking off because, hey it’s Ramadan. Actually, I think they are so damn hungry, they can’t think straight. This means all meetings that include the Afghan Government must be done in the morning and completed by no later then one pm and whatever you do, don’t eat in front of them.

It also marks one of the most dangerous times as well, because there is a certain day in Ramadan that if you blow yourself up, it’s suppose to speed up your delivery to Allah and the covenanted 72 virgins. With that being said, we get all sorts of reports of possible bombers just itching to take themselves out along with the non believers. This concept, while foreign to us, is in their genetic makeup after hundreds of years of preaching this. They are definitely a determent to the success of this country, but I find hope when I hear stories like the one I’m about to tell you.

One of my new guys in the office is a former Special Forces Soldier who spent two tours in Vietnam and then left active duty to become a lawyer. Rich and his wife Karen, who was the head of the Committee for a Free Afghanistan in the 80’s a small organization set up to help the Afghans rid the Russians in their country, adopted a handsome young boy named Hazrat. This was during the Regan years and Charlie Wilson’s war if you have read that book. A chance meeting one day connected them to the future of Afghanistan when a friend told them of a young boy who was brought to the States for medical treatment.

As a small boy, Hazrat was playing outside of his house when a Squadron of Russian Hind helicopters came up the valley and attacked his village in the province of Wardak, not to far from here. The wall of his house collapsed, killing his Mother and crushing his legs under the rock outside. He was around eight at the time and his father loaded him up on a donkey and after a two week trek, made it over the Mountains to Pakistan in an attempt to save him. A group from the states just happened to be working in the area by the hospital and heard about this little boy who desperately needed medical attention. Some how, he ended up on a flight to New York, where he was so badly eaten with infections that he went into cardiac arrest upon landing. The EMT’s were able to revive him and sent him down to Washington DC for treatment.

He was wheel chair bound at the time after that but through the generosity of a famous surgeon, underwent a series of operations (over 20) that allowed him to walk again after intensive therapy. He was a well spoken, handsome young man that charmed the pants off of everyone he met and eventually became the spokesman for Afghanistan at the tender age of ten. Congress was having debates at the time about how to help the Afghans and should we give them Stinger missiles to shoot down the Russian helicopters. Hazrat ended up having a meeting with President Regan and told him to please send his people “Stingers” to rid them of the Russians. This plea worked and soon the mujahedeen had the weapons that drove the Russians back across the border.

He ended up graduating from college and after September 11th joined up to go fight with the Americans in Afghanistan with the Special Forces as a linguist since he spoke Dari, Pashtu and English. He was even able to find his father after a 23 year absence and in good Afghan fashion (arranged marriage), was married a beautiful girl who is still over here. He comes over to visit and is trying to get her back to the States. Amazing story of a little boy, who should be dead by all rights, has made a life for himself in America and his old country. He is the future of Afghanistan and hopefully more like him will come back and help guide these guys out of the Middle Ages. I say this not in jest, but having lived in the reality of Afghanistan where a young boy in a village a few hours from here asked me where I was from. I told him America and he asked if that was on the other side of the Mountains in front of us. I replied through our interpreter, that no, I lived on the other side of the world. He was incredulous at this fact and told me in no uncertain terms that his Mullah said the world is flat. His village has no electricity or running water and they have no idea what a TV, Ipod, radio, dvd player, Microwave oven or a shower is all about.

Sometimes I think this may not be a bad thing…well, I’ll keep the hot shower at least.
Semper Fi,

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