By Mel Pearlman

Remember with reverence the Fallen 13


September 10, 2021

As America licks its wounds and wrings its hands at the debacle of the last several weeks in the humiliating retreat and defeat at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan, let us pause to remember the brave and courageous men and women of our armed forces who returned to the battlefield in the waning days of our retreat from Kabul.

They returned, not to battle a barbaric enemy, but to rescue and save American citizens, Afghan allies and citizens who embraced freedom, modernity and equality. These are the Afghans who rejected the inhumane, barbaric and criminal behavior of the radical and irrational Islamic fanatics who usurp both the spiritual and intellectual beliefs of Islam.

These returning American military personnel were no threat to the victorious Taliban or to the ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists who once again will find a safe haven under the auspices of a Taliban terrorist regime.

Our initial objective in invading Afghanistan was to neutralize the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 in 2001. The American military sought no territorial conquest of any lands, but only to give the Afghan people an opportunity to find their own destiny. Under the protection of the American military, millions of Afghan men and women were given the opportunity to educate themselves, and to free themselves from centuries of oppression.

America did not impose its will on the Afghan people. It sought no spoils of war. On the contrary, America spent hundreds of billions of dollars in supporting the development of Afghan’s economy, building it educational and other democratic institutions. It sent its sons and daughters into harms way, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, to assist the Afghan people in developing their own security. The failure of that effort was the failure of the Afghan people, not the failure of the American effort.

Each of us, in one way or another, has been touched by the lives of American soldiers who in every generation have served our nation.

These contemporary Americans are the same breed as the American doughboys who rescued Europe in World War I and who rescued humanity from the darkness of Nazi barbarism in World War II. They carry the same heroic DNA as our soldiers who fought in South Korea and Vietnam.

Our history is replete with other examples of the sacrifices American soldiers have made on behalf of other peoples to keep them free. Even in defeat, American soldiers have carried out their missions with courage, dignity and honor.

There is no military mission more noble or unselfish than to assist a people who want to be free and to work out their internal problems without violence. That is what the United States over a twenty-year period tried to do in Afghanistan.

It was tragic that the Afghans were unable to take advantage of the opportunity afforded them by the American military presence and assistance, but that does not diminish from the nobility of that effort.

For the loved ones of our fallen 13 who died in the last days of our evacuation from Afghanistan there will never be a satisfactory answer to why they died.

It is therefore incumbent on all Americans to remember with particular reverence those fallen 13; that an American soldier, in every generation, is a person who stands ready to give his or her life so that others may live freely; and that we are proud of each and every one of them.

If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.

Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.


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