Like many others, I was clueless and ignorant about the situation in Afghanistan. Hearing about the senseless deaths of many young soldiers – mostly younger than me – I didn’t understand why these men and women would sacrifice their lives to fight in a country that could never be salvaged.
Then I met The Solider.
At age 21, he was in his second year taking Political Science at the University of Calgary. Feeling incomplete and unfulfilled, he dropped out of school along with his best friend to serve the military.
We met two months after he served his first tour in Afghanistan. We became fast friends. My friends warned about PTSD but I rarely saw a glimpse of any trauma except for the occasional nightmares.
Because of him, I learned more about the war from the eyes of someone who served on the front line.
Besides the political issues, I learned that young girls are now getting an education which was unheard of even a decade ago. When the soldiers see these girls running on the streets and laughing, that is worth fighting for.
One day, I asked him “Weren’t you afraid of dying?”
The Soldier gives out a long sigh before responding.
“Sara, I can’t explain it and it may sound irrational but I am destined to do this. It is in my blood. There is no other way I would want to leave this earth other than protecting my country.”
Our friendship quickly evolved into an incredible relationship that lasted two and a half years. His decision to remain in the military was the main reason why we ended our relationship. He is going back on his second tour early next year and even though we are no longer together, it won’t make me worry less each night knowing he is in a vulnerable situation.
The Solider will always be one of the most courageous, compassionate, selfless men I’ve had the honour to meet and know. The same traits that makes him an outstanding soldier also made him an outstanding boyfriend.
For the many soldiers who are still serving our country, and in honour of those we’ve lost, thank you for fighting for our freedom.
Note: This post was originally published on my old blog on November 11, 2011.