A resilient people

This is an abridged story from NPR’s “StoryCorps.”  The full story can be read here.

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Photo: public domain


AJMAL Achekzai was five years old when he first left his homeland. It was 1980, and his family was among the first Afghans to seek asylum in the United States after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. . . .

At age 26, Achekzai enlisted in the military he said, “to serve the country that allowed me to come.” 

The following year saw the September 11 attacks, setting off what would become America’s longest war. Achekzai’s commanding officer knew he spoke Dari and Pashto, the two main languages of Afghanistan. That November he returned to his homeland as a Marine for what would be his first of two deployments in the country. . . .

Cpl. Achekzai, who served as a translator for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, befriended many locals whom, he said, “saw me as one of their own.” 

“They would bring food, like, ‘My mom made some food for you,’ ” he said. “Afghan people are one of the most honorable and hospitable people in the world.” 

In the face of decades of war, then and now, he said that Afghans are a resilient people.

“Afghanistan, to me, is my motherland. Beauty, poetry. And they’re survivors, that’s what they are. Forty years of war, they wake up every day, dust the dirt off their shoulder and keep going.” 

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