Biden pays respect 13 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Indian Americans hold candlelight vigil



When the US finally quit Afghanistan for good, it was a known fact that it wouldn’t be a smooth or even an amicable handover. The evacuation was always going to be filled with conflicts and confusion.

During one of the evacuations, 13 US soldiers were killed for the last time. The soldiers’ mortal remains finally arrived to the US on Sunday, August 29. This arrival was received by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden to pay their last respects for the veterans.

The Bidens, in addition, also met with the family of the deceased soldiers privately, before joining them for the “dignified transfer” of the fallen troops while at Dover Air Force Base.

While this is the first time that Biden attended the tragic ceremony as President, his three most recent predecessors as presidents have all attended the dignified transfers for troops killed in the nearly 20-year Afghanistan war.

Meanwhile, Indian Americans held candlelight peace vigils in various cities across the country to mourn the victims. They have also urged the Biden administration to ensure that the perpetrators of the act are brought to justice.

On Sunday, a small group of about 20 Indian-Americans had gathered at the reflecting pond in front of the US Capitol for a candlelight vigil for US service members killed in the suicide attack at the Kabul airport.

Candlelight vigils were also held in New York, Jersey City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Ohio Columbus, Connecticut, among others.

Mayor Lily Mei, mayor City of Fremont in California posted on Facebook: “I joined our Vice Mayor Yang Shao and Council member Teresa Cox in mourning last night (Aug. 29) along with members of the Indian American community during the Candlelight Vigil organized by Dr. Romesh Japra and the Fremont Hindu Temple for our US Service Members killed in action in the Kabul. Our City of Fremont, shares our condolences, hearts and prayers with their families, friends and communities.”

Another community person, Ritesh Tandon said, “Terrorism has no place in this world. Terrorists, as well as countries who are indirectly supporting such terrorism, will pay for this.”

”The Indian-American community stands with the families of the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, who made the supreme sacrifice for the country in the line of duty. They will never be forgotten”, Achalesh Amar, long-time community member and activist, said.

Several people were holding flowers, placards, flags and pictures of the fallen members in Houston, Texas. A few members of the Afghan-American community also joined the vigil.

Local veteran groups have also responded to the passing of Texas fallen soldier David Lee Espinoza. The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, whose members have fought in international conflicts like Afghanistan and elsewhere, said they offer their condolences and well wishes to the family during this difficult time.

As the President looked on, flag-draped cases carrying 11 service members’ remains were loaded into vans. The remains of two other fallen US service members were being brought home privately at the request of their families. The slain soldiers had been young, ranging in age from 20 to 31. Eleven of the 13 Americans killed were Marines, while one was a Navy sailor and another was in the Army.

The casualties included a 20-year-old Marine from Wyoming who had been expecting his first child in three weeks and a 22-year-old Navy corpsman who in his last FaceTime conversation with his mother assured her that he would stay safe because “my guys got me.”

Five were just 20, born not long before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that spurred the United States to invade Afghanistan in order to topple al-Qaida and dismantle their Taliban hosts who ruled the country.

President Biden called them heroes in a statement, lauding them for their work in assisting the evacuation efforts. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far,” he noted.

Nearly 200 people, including the 13 US troops, were killed last week as twin blasts rocked Kabul Airport. The Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack, even as Biden vowed to ‘hunt down’ the attackers and ‘make them pay’.

They were incidentally the first US service members to be killed in Afghanistan since February 2020, when the Trump administration reached an agreement with the Taliban.


[Photo Courtesy: Facebook]