This is a reflection of a U.S. Service member of his experience in Afghanistan that underscores the importance of character as the hope that shines a light in the darkest places and brings peace in conflict.
Five years ago, a young commander of a platoon found himself in Kandahar, the frontline of the fighting in Afghanistan. He will never forget the many close compatriots that he lost while serving on that front. Additionally, he recalls the day he was notified of the passing of his grandfather. It was the day his platoon was set to go on a 12-mile hike towards the conflict. He was given leave to mourn, but he paused to decide what to do.
For him, he would reflect, it was a moment of truth that tested his character. Would he let the loss weaken him, or would he let the memory and example of his grandfather strengthen his resolve to uphold the highest principles and values in his life? He dug deep, looking to the lives of his father and those who passed before him for inspiration, and concluded that he would follow their example and turn tragedy into a moment of victory.
This commander would continue to lead his platoon, eventually establishing a co-educational school that stands adjacent to the mosque that is said to have been the birthplace of the Taliban. He would later explain that he wanted to leave a glimmer of hope in the midst of war – that during his post, he left the place better than how he found it.
During the most trying year of his life, he discovered an inner strength that would drive him to create something positive in the midst of war – an inner confidence that he derived from living for a purpose larger than himself, a legacy that he attributes to his father and grandfather.
In the conflict zones around the world, such examples remind us that so long as the nobility of the human spirit is able to shine and endure, there is hope for peace.