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    Posted June 7, 2009 by
    Los Angeles, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Salute to troops

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    Women at War: Ode to Unsung Heroines


    Behind the primal, astounding beauty of the Afghan mountains lies the unknown.


    For the troops stationed a few kilometers away, the unknown coupled with the deserted, long stretch of dirt road linking hostile villages to one another codify the notion of dangerous. As mortars are being launched, gunshots fired upon your squad and IEDs randomly explode, your hearts and heads thump with both fear and a sobering sense of duty.

    Bodies are left shattered and a few lives are lost. In the blink of an eye, something goes amiss as someone shoots the bullets that end life as you knew it, and for a second, you wonder who you are.

    You are paragons of courage under fire.

    You are examples of societal daring.

    You are the few female soldiers allowed on the battlefield.

    Despite the monthly hormonal upheaval of your bodies, your innate propensity for excessive compassion, you remain soldiers. You snub the alleged weakness of your gender to become warriors, comparable to the lauded ancient societies’ Amazons. Be aware of your value and may your bravery be not only acknowledged, but praised by your male counterparts.

    Those of you who are no more will not be forgotten; their memory will be kept alive by those who are still fighting.

    When you return home to fathers, mothers, siblings or children, changed beyond your own reckoning, the echoes of past blasts and gunshots and wounded soldiers’ laments still resonating in your heads, remember this: you were like roses in an indiscriminately cruel world at war. You were delicate but strong and unyielding.

    When you wake up to the grim reality that the love of your kin and friends may not be enough for a complete catharsis, remember that one of your greatest accomplishments as soldiers was not to have fired a weapon or supported your comrades in battle. Your greatest achievement is to have channeled forgotten humanity where it lacked the most: in a battlefield.

    You are indeed like roses in an indiscriminately cruel place.

    Be safe.

    M.H.A. Menondji

    (First published in the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, 5-27-09)

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