U.S. service members in Kabul took a moment’s respite from the wave of terrorist bombings in Afghanistan in recent months to enjoy a lunchtime ceremony in honor of America’s 242nd Independence Day on the Fourth of July.
“It’s an important holiday because we fight for it,” U.S. Army Cpl. Ruby Cruz of the 191st Regional Support Group Forward from Fort Allen, Puerto Rico, told Stars and Stripes in Kabul.
Acknowledging that she missed the celebrations back home, she added, “But we have fun here, too, so it’s not too bad.”
A barbecue dinner in the evening is expected to follow the Fourth of July ceremony at the headquarters of the U.S.-NATO mission known as Resolute Support (RS).
“American flags could be seen in all corners of NATO’s Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul on Wednesday as U.S. service-members celebrated Independence Day,” Stars and Stripes reports.
Honoring the birth of the United States at the ceremony in Kabul, U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, declared:
For American servicemen and women who are deployed overseas, this day holds a very special significance, and it reminds us of the tremendous sacrifices made by previous generations of patriots in all of America’s wars in defense of liberty at home and abroad. …We hope Afghans will remember this, that reconciliation is possible between rivals.
Reconciliation between Kabul and the Taliban is the primary goal of U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to end the nearly 17-year-old war.
In recent months, both the Afghan Taliban and its alleged rival, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), have heavily targeted the Afghan capital of Kabul, including a meeting of the top Islamic scholars in the country last month.
The U.S. military has deployed a brigade that consists of about 800 military advisers and a few hundred additional soldiers to tackle the wave of bombings that have been targeting Kabul, the Washington Post reported on July 1.
In March, Gen. Nicholson expanded the American mission to prevent massive bombings in Kabul:
Happy 4th of July from U.S. Forces – Afghanistan!@usairforce Master Sgt. Christine Johnson sends a #4thofJuly #independenceday greeting to her family in Spokane, Wash. @DeptofDefense @ResoluteSupport @CENTCOM @USAFCENT @USEmbassyKabul pic.twitter.com/o9CtQphLLb
— USFOR-A Spokesman, Col Dave Butler (@USFOR_A) July 4, 2018
The 4th of July celebrates the birth of our nation, which was founded on the principles of liberty and freedom. On this #IndependenceDay, we send thanks and wishes to our troops at home and overseas as they continue to protect our nation. @CJTFOIR @ResoluteSupport pic.twitter.com/NhxNGaUqdN
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) July 4, 2018