A bouquet of September 11 Book Quotes on the 20th Anniversary Commemoration of the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, because this was a tragedy that pulled our world apart, and brought us all together. 9/11 #NeverForget
Taliban, the history of Afghanistan and its people, read a book extract from my novel Silent Heroes, FREE to download from Amazon on the 19th and 20th of August, today and tomorrow.
Silent Heroes extract:
‘Maybe this story will help us better understand what the Afghan people went through.
‘Alexander the Great, the Muslim Arabs in the 12th century, the Mongols in the 13th century and then the British and the Russians who had a century-long dispute, ‘The Great Game’, over this territory, they all came here to lose battles and their soldiers’ lives. ‘The Great Game’ was a century-old political and diplomatic confrontation between two Empires, the British and the Russian. They fought over this area of land we stand on, Afghanistan, and its neighbouring territories in Central Asia, the Middle East, and South-East Asia. Russia was scared that Britain will gain power over Asia, while Britain was scared that Russia had its eye set on India, ‘the jewel of the crown’, to say the least. And all of this happened because of Afghanistan’s geo-political location at the gateway between Asia and Europe.’
A chair’s scraping against the floor sounded like a bird’s distant cry. ‘Geez, Geography lesson!, someone said, followed closely by a thud.
‘The tug of war between the British and Russian Empires over dominance in Asia was marked by three Anglo-Afghan wars. During this century of fighting Afghanistan’s borders were adjusted and readjusted by the two empires with little or no consultation with Afghan rulers. Yet the British forces were not able to conquer Afghanistan. So after the 3rd Anglo-Afghan War, in 1921, Afghanistan finally gained its independence and became a monarchy for about fifty years… Although Afghanistan had had its first taste of a totalitarian ruler during the 18th century when Ahmand Shah, a Durrani chieftain, established the Afghan state. By clever use of diplomacy and violence, managing and manipulating a web of powerful tribal fractions, Ahmand Shah brought together territories previously divided among autonomous provinces. But his system was not self-sustaining and after his death the tribal fractions he reunited fought for power in what was to become a centuries-long kaleidoscope of betrayal.’
A whisper at the back, ‘it’s History,’ was quickly hushed by another thud.
‘More Afghan leaders came and went. Some managed to do more for the country than the others. Take ‘The Iron Amir’, Abdurrahman Khan, who ruled through intimidation and repression and relied on an intricate network of spies. During his time the army evolved from an amalgam of tribal militias to a reliable, permanent fighting force. The Iron Amir also improved the educational system; he introduced a basic communication system and a single currency. Three generations of his family followed him to the throne of Afghanistan. His son even kept the country neutral during World War I, demanding international recognition of Afghanistan’s full independence. This stirred the British interest again but it was the Iron Amir’s grandson, Amanullah Khan, who had to deal with the third British-Afghan War. Surprisingly a treaty was signed, Britain recognising Afghanistan’s independence. Amanullah had big plans of turning Afghanistan into a modern state, making education a top priority and planning major reforms. He even drew the country’s first national budget in 1922 but did so at the expense of its army. It was the first time an Afghan leader tried to change the traditional values and practices. Amanullah made decrees in respect to women’s rights and he abolished slavery and child labour. But the very thing that defined him soon turned against him. The tribal and religious forces wanted to maintain the traditions as it helped them dominate the political landscape.
‘This is the thorn in the road that was often overlooked by Afghan leaders and even by outside political forces: the unique relationship between the country’s fourteen recognized ethnic groups and its various tribes. During Amanullah’s reign, the various tribes eventually joined forces to oppose his line of reforms and since he had neglected his army he could not ensure order and stability inside his new independent state and so he was soon forced to abdicate.’
‘You say that no army, but good progress is worse than having a well-trained army and little progress?’ said Kent.
‘In this case, yes. The local traditional powers are ruled by what they call ‘strongmen’, leaders who rule by force and abuse, often showing little regard to human rights and are set in their traditions.
‘More kings came and went while other things brewed in the background of this political turmoil and by 1973 the Afghan Communist Party had emerged and, through a communist coup, Daoud came to power. Again, at odds with the Afghan tribal and cultural traditions. The PDPA, People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, had plans of ambitious reforms, modern ones. They had foreseen dramatic changes to marriage rights and agricultural practices and planned a system of universal education and even a change in the role of women. This was perceived as ‘atheistic meddling in key Islam rituals’ and led to localized protests and then a national uprising.
‘The PDPA had ascended through army power, but it disintegrated through insubordination, desertion, and purges. The rejection of the communist regime by the Afghan people was universal and one of the most truly popular revolts of the 20th century. The Afghans perceived the Soviets who took over as a force that systematically planned to alienate every segment of their lives.
‘Similar to the British before them, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 planning to remain there for only six months, enough to take control of major centres and appoint a ruler. They stayed for ten years. This is why the CIA had time to plan its support and fund the Muhajideen rebels (or strugglers, or those engaged in Jihad) and armed them to fight against the Russians.’
‘So we had another situation of tug of war between two empires? Kind of not matter which large empire you are, as soon as you approach Afghanistan you are bound to bump into another country’s attempts to expert their own influence in the region?’ said Dunn.
‘After the Soviets began their interference in Afghanistan things began spinning out of proportion and it all went downhill in a mix of tribal laws and religious fanaticism. The Mujahadeen rebels, in control of rural areas, were united against the Soviet invaders and the USSR-backed Afghan Army that was holding the urban areas. Even after the Soviet withdrawal the Mujahadeen still continued their resistance against the communist regime left behind. And what happens, again? Different warlords emerge again, fighting against each other for supremacy over Afghanistan and carving out their own kingdoms of autonomous ruling waving Islam around as their lethal weapon. Newly formed Islamic militia, the Taliban, rises to power as a social and religious answer promising peace left and right so most Afghans, exhausted by years of war and famine, approve of the Taliban, blinded by its upholding of traditional Islamic values and by its promise to restore security in the country and eradicate corruption. But one step forward sometimes means two steps back. Or more. The Taliban enforces Islamic law through public executions and amputations. Soon after, the United States refuses to recognize the authority of the Taliban. And Afghanistan is faced with yet another internal armed struggle, an even darker one. The Taliban fighting for supremacy, allied with the al-Qaeda movement whose sole purpose was to continue their jihad, or holy war, against all those who oppose their goal of a pure nation governed by Islam.
‘Today, the Afghan army is in a feeble state, a hotchpotch of casualties and desertions. They are bleeding the few men they do have left. Any Afghan capable of holding a weapon, even older boys, are expected to join its ranks, here in Helmand more than in any other province. But they are terrified that they will be killed during the first intense fight or that their families left behind without their protection will be raped and tortured by the Taliban because they have joined the coalition army.
‘We are these villagers’ last hope. We can make a difference in their lives. War doesn’t have to be a reality for them anymore.
‘There are no Christian and Muslims here, but Christian people and Muslim people, real people whose lives are endangered every day. People whose daily life is tinted by the horror of knowing that they, or their loved ones, might be killed at any moment. We, too, can be killed, but this is our job so that our own people, back home, don’t have to go through their lives in fear of being shot at. (…)
Kent’s voice stopped everyone in their tracks.
‘Sources from these villages were saying that there is a body of Talibans who desire to be part of this country’s future. What are the chances that this is that very group and here we are, planning on annihilating them?’
‘Sources, Sergeant Kent?’
‘One of the guides we used the other day,’ said Kent, unfazed.
‘Guides are like a double-edged sword, Kent. And this is the reality about most Afghan soldiers. Yes, we are being communicated that Afghans officials are talking more about peace than they are talking about fighting their way to victory especially since not all the Taliban groups are involved in the fight anymore.
‘It seems that some Taliban groups do talk about peace. I haven’t met any. It is the Coalitions’ job to bridge the gap between the two sides, Taliban and Afghan leaders. But don’t you think, Kent, if the Taliban group who attacked the village yesterday had finished their fight, they wouldn’t have gone about killing innocent women and planting more IEDs?’
‘So what do you say, Captain?’
‘I say that some Talibans might be talking about peace or this may just be a rumour meant to get us to lower our guard. I say that some Afghans do want peace, especially some of the warlords, while other warlords are still thirsty for power and are not done carving themselves a slice of Afghanistan that’s big enough. I say that the CIA has abused the ‘warlord strategy’ and it is now coming back to bite us.
‘It has been part of the CIA’s strategy to portray the Afghanistan warlords as liberators and unifiers. Backed by the CIA, some warlords grew a strong army and challenged their rival tribes taking wrongful control over vast territories, promising that in return for monetary bribes they will help the CIA to locate al-Qaeda leaders. So these warlords’ power grew, their militia was recognised as a pro-U.S. ground force that often substituted the U.S. soldiers and even the ANA, Afghan National Army, in some areas. These warlords became now an integrated part of the country’s security apparatus. But the CIA had not made a distinction between any of the warlords it employed and this strategic mistake is something we pay for nowadays as, although some warlords have proved to be a stabilising power and I have met one once, Commander al Vizer, other warlords have proved able to undermine the Alliance’s security. These are the warlords showing rapacious behaviours. Through their powerful ambitions and selfish actions, through their hunger for power and self-interest foundation of their actions, through their corruption and violent nature, they have managed to strengthen the Taliban-led insurgency and engage themselves in torture and drug production. These warlords rule through force and fear, they are mere gangsters. And many of these undermining warlords have made fraudulent claims regarding the location of many Taliban fighters; many have fed the CIA false information that suited their own ends. Khan Zadran is known to have successfully called in airstrikes on rival tribal authorities and to have terrorized Afghan villages under false pretences that they were Taliban targets. (…)
The men left the briefing room quietly and geared up, only the call to the first daily prayer, the Fajr, echoing from the nearby settlement, at odds with the country’s centuries-old war state.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
A group of U.S. Marines and their MWD, Military Working Dogs, are the last chance of survival for a small group of Afghan people, the survivals of a city of ten thousand inhabitants. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the Allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.
Silent Heroes is a work of fiction about everyday people, soldiers and dogs caught in war, a read filled with action, thrill and emotional twists and turns.
More on my blog, on Taliban, the history of Afghanistan and its people, and my book Silent Heroes:
Rafik’s journey in Silent Heroes: the Hindu Kush Mountains, an Oshkosh vehicle, the Afghan Desert, at Camp Bastion, and in n Afghan village.
5 Secrets revealed in Silent Heroes: the humanity of the U.S. Marines, the women’s rights under Taliban, Taliban’s secret lair, the military chain of command, and a mysterious underground fortress.
Have you downloaded Silent Heroes yet? It’s FREE for only two day, the 19th and the 20th of August.
How to read Kindle books on a PC if you don’t own a Kindle – 2 ways
Read Kindle books on your PC using Kindle Cloud Reader:
– Go to Amazon
-Search for Kindle Cloud Reader
– Create an account or sign in using your Amazon account.
– Double click on the book you wish to read.
Using the Kindle PC App:
– Go to Amazon (the online retailer, not the big river).
– Search for Kindle App, click on the relevant App, download and install.
– Open the Kindle for PC app when successfully installed.
– Sign into your Amazon account or create one (is free)
– Download the FREE book
– The book will show in your App’s Kindle library. Double click to open and read on your PC.
The story of Military Dog Tags spans millennia, and is fascinating to see how keeping our silent heroes accounted for during war times was first a priority, to later fade away only to return out of a basic human desire of being known, even in death, and not to become one of (too many) unknown soldiers.
What makes an army? The number of its soldiers? The thirst of its leaders or their pathos and charisma . As far back as 2000 BC the Xia Dynasty of China kept a 12 000 men army, the ancient Egypt saw a 100 000 men army during the reign of Ramesses II, the next massive army was that of the Persians under Cyrus the Great, with half a million men, equaled in number only by Mauryan Empire of India around 300 BCE.
Yet, did they mattered, the warriors? Were they seen an human beings, as individuals with dreams and aspirations, or as mere soldiers, the parts of a whole? Who missed them when they were gone, left to fertilize a foreign land? Who cried and uttered their names one last time? Who knew each one of them by their name?
“A mother, a daughter, a sister, a wifePatricia Furstenberg
Wrote his name, carved it in wood
To remind him their love,
To keep him safe from death
A spell of love
The first ever dog tag.“
The first dog tags we know of in history belonged to the Spartans who wrote their names on sticks tied to their left wrists – because the left arm was holding the shield when in battle and the shield was a precious family heirloom. Spartans were bot only literate, but admired for their intellectual culture and poetry.
Could they have looked like these?
They might have looked fearless, the Spartans, in their crimson tunics and battered shields with the letter lambda painted on, and long hair – which they considered the symbol of a free man.
It is of no surprise that Roman legionaries also carried dog tags. But so did the poor Roman slaves… Less personalized than those of the Spartans, the Roman dog tags were received by each soldier on the moment of joining he Roman legion, the Roman Army Recruits, and were called signaculum, the seal. A signaculum, made of lead, carried the soldier’s name, “Unit” of assignment and, in some cases, home record etched on the front as well as a stamp to authenticate it, on the reverse. In the beginning the signaculum was kept in a small leather or cloth pouch and worn around the neck.
Until the permanent Soldier’s Mark was instated for Roman legionaries, a brand imprinted on the hands of the soldiers with a hot iron, possibly to discourage desertion, but only after he was proved fit for service. A tattoo, if you please.
A Roman slave pendant tag
It was hanging from a ring, meant to be worn around the slave’s neck and made of iron and bronze.
“TENEMENE. FVGIA ET REVO. CAMEADDOMNVM. EVVIVENTIVM IN. ARACALLISTI“
“Tene me ne fugia[m] et revoca me ad dom[i]nu[m] meu [m] Viventium in ar[e]a Callisti”
~Translating to (if my Latin serves me well)~
Hold me lest I flee and return me to my master Viventius in the area of Callistus.
Luckily, this custom was later abolished by the relaxation introduced by a long peace.
I couldn’t find any records or mentions of any form of identification for soldiers that fought in Europe or elsewhere for the next fifteen hundred years or so…
I thought of the Janissaries, this incredible heroes of the Ottoman Empire that tormented southeastern Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia for over six centuries, between the 14th and early 20th centuries… But Janissaries, despite their military status and recognizable hat (that tall bork fitted a stunning jeweled ornament in the middle of the forehead), were an army of slaves to the Ottoman Sultan. Their identity didn’t matter, only their force through training and numbers…
It was only in 1712 France that soldiers were recorded again, and issued a cartouche (cartouche de congé or feuilles de rutes) to prove their legal leave… but nothing about an identification tags.
This lack of identification tags for soldiers comes at no surprise if we consider that in 16th and 17th century France personal identity (of a civilian) was based on interpersonal relations, shared experiences and social bonds between the members of a community, from family to the parish and so on. Thus, a stranger leaving this cocoon, this sphere of interpersonal relations became unknown, no longer recognized – and identified.
It was in 1792 when births and deaths in France had to be legally registered and passports were issued for every traveler during the French revolution. Although some primitive forms of passport did exist, being inherited from the Middle Ages and being more of a privilege than a form of identification…
We do know that Napoleon mustered an army of 2.5 million people at the beginning of the 19th century…. nearly 400 000 were killed in action not counting the invasion of Russia where around one million French and allied soldiers perished.
Across the Pond, someone was killing President Thomas Jefferson’s sheep. His neighbor’s dogs. So the President wrote the first dog licensing law for his home state of Virginia wishing to identify the owners of the naughty dogs owners and make them pay for his loss. By the 1850’s most cities had such laws requiring dog owners to attach a collar with their name and license number around their doggo’s neck.
Because no one expected the American Civil War to last so long, 1861 – 1865, most soldiers marched off to fight in a wide variety of uniforms, most of them homemade. Their own clothes. Later the uniforms became blue for Unions, Bluebellies, and light brownish for the Confederates, Butternuts.
It took more than three years of bloody fighting for everyone to understand how dangerous the coming battle would be.
Do you remember the ‘sash’ Scarlett made for Ashley? No dog tags, still… made to tell him apart.
Yet no soldier’s uniform of the American Civil War included a set of dog tags, although in May 1962 John Kennedy from New York proposed that each Union soldier is issued with an ID tag. And the soldiers cared that, when they die, their families back home know to mourn them. There is a sea of graves with headstones marked ‘Unknown Soldier’. So soon, as soon as the men saw that this war will never end, the soldiers (perhaps their wives too, their mothers, sisters, sweethearts, from South and from the North) began to sew their names on the uniform, before leaving for battle, before kissing them good bye, hugging them one last time, before praying together for a happy reunion. One more…
Those in a hurry just wrote their name on a piece of paper or a handkerchief, pinned it to their blouses and hoped they won’t bleed on it, when wounded. Some even carved their names on small wooden discs , pierced a hole through it and hung it from their neck with a piece of string. Others stenciled identification on their knapsacks or scratched it in the soft lead backing of their army belt buckle. Most of them were 16 – 23 years old.
Still, about 50% of soldiers killed in action were positively identified.
Eventually, merchants saw a booming business and began producing metal disks shaped to suggest a branch of service. These were soon called name discs or soldier pins. Some sold soldier pins made of silver or gold and etched with the soldier’s name and unit. But not everyone could afford one so most soldiers made their own ID tags by grinding off one side of a coin and then etching their names on it.
Cheaper, machine-stamped tags appeared, made of brass or lead with a hole. They had an eagle or shield and a motivational phrase such as “War for the Union” or “Liberty, Union, and Equality” on one side. The other side showed the soldier’s name and unit, and sometimes a list of battles in which he had participated. By the 1890s, the U.S. Army and Navy began experimenting with issuing metal identification tags to recruits.
It didn’t took long until the wooden and metal discs used for dogs were referred to as dog tags and that name carried over to their human counterparts.
But such dog tags were also provided to the Chinese soldiers during the Taiping revolt, 1851 – 1866, when both the Chinese Imperial Army soldiers and the Taiping rebels wearing a uniform wore a wooden dog tag at the belt with their name, age, birthplace, unit, and date of enlistment inscribed.
1866 Europe, the Prussian soldiers began wearing dog tags during the Austro – Prussian War but on a volunteer basis only as many considered them a bad omen. Sad, as in the aftermath of the decisive Battle of Königgrätz (Sadowa), when the Kingdom of Prussia defeated the Austrian Empire which led to the German unification, the Little Germany (Germany without Austria), out of 8900 Prussian casualties only 429 of them could be identified. It was three years later the Recognitionsmarke, recognition mark, became obligatory, but the soldier called them Hundermarken, since they looked like ID tags used for the canines of Berlin… Story goes that King Wilhelm flew into a rage about the common naming of the tag saying that his soldiers are not dogs – so the nickname was forbidden in the following years…which only encouraged it’s use by the soldiers.
You can see below an Austro – Hungarian Empire‘s Officer Legitimization Case, a pre-design of a dog tag. On the obverse the case is engraved with the Imperial Cypher of King Frans Joseph I of Austria, while on the reverse is the Austro – Hungarian Coat of arms (double headed crowned eagle). The case opened and inside were included personal ID, service records, list of decorations awarded.
Meanwhile, in 1907 the British Army replaced the identity cards with aluminum discs, each soldier receiving two. An octagonal green tag was attached to a cord around the neck, intended to remain on the body for future identification. The second tag, a red circular disc, was suspended from the first and could be removed to record the soldier’s death. The British forces serving in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand received similar dog tags during the Great War, exception making the sailors who preferred an ID bracelet.
It was in 1906 when the U.S. government decided by a general order that a circular aluminum disc be worn as an identification tag by all soldiers, and by 1913 all military service members were required to wear such an identification disc. The aluminum disc was the size of a silver half dollar and imprinted with the name, rank, company, regiment or corps, and worn suspended around the neck.
When U.S. entered World War I (1914-1918) in 1917 all its service members, killed or wounded, were therefor identified and accounted for. It was now when military service members began wearing two such identification tags hand-stamped with their name, rank, serial number, unit and religion. One tag was meant to remain attached to the body of the deceased while the other would mark the coffin or the grave site, be it home or away.
Canadian, USA, British WW1 dog tags and a custom stamping set:
At the same time back in Europe the French soldiers were fitted with a bracelet displaying a metal disk engraved with the their name, rank and other pertinent formation. And here’s a Scottish one:
In Russia, after the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 and the necessity to increase the newly mobilized force exponentially, up to 75% of the Russian troops entered WW1 with no form of personal identification…
Below, a Russian tag from 1902, a 1909 wooden cylinder used to protect a piece of paper with the soldier’s details (although it was also used to store matches), and a 1917 dog tag:
Of course, I should show you some Romanian dog tags from WW1 and WW2:
During WWII, 1939-1945, most dog tags used looked like the ones we’ve seen often – at least in the movies: rectangular shaped with rounded ends and machine stamped. First made of brass, then from a corrosion-resistant alloy, nickel – copper, and eventually from stainless steel.
Below: a British RAF dog tag of a soldier named Astman and Australian dog tags (notice the rubber rim meant to silence them)
Still, the human’s wars were not over…
Two Finish dog tags, first one from the Winter War (the war between the Soviet Union and Finland, 30 Nov 1939 – 13 Mar 1940), the second one is modern, it has the letters SF, Suomi Finland, stamped within a tower.
During the 1950s some rules regarding dog tags changed, one identification tag was placed on a long chain, while the second was hung on a shorter chain. In case of death the identification tag on the shorter chain was meant to be placed around the toe of the deceased, toe tag. The other dog tag was meant to remain with the deceased or used to report back the name of the deceased soldier.
For those who experienced the Communist Block, Eastern Block, and the Cold War this army pass book for a Corporal in die NVA – Die Nationale Volksarmee der DDR (The National People’s Army) will bring back a wave of memories. Next DDR and Germany dog tags (notice the differences between the two):
During the long Vietnam War, 1955-1975, the soldiers, exasperated by the noise the dog tags made while banging each other, something that endangered their safety during the long, humid moths of unending battles and hiding in the Asian jungles… began taping the dog tags together. Thus rubber covers came in use so the tags remain silent. But the Vietnam War was a different war and bodies often became dismembered to an extent they were often unidentifiable… so the soldiers would often wear one dog tag in one boot, tied with the bootlace in case in might, just might help with the recovery of their remains.
I discovered two P.O.W. (Prisoner Of War) dog tags, fashioned by prisoners while locked away, awaiting. What? … While hoping, thinking of what they left behind, of what they have back home (their only wealth), dreaming, not as in hoping, but as night visions, the only way they could escape an uncertain present built out of nightmares. I believe these dog tags are the most valuable ones, both a letter and a will, a cry for life and a farewell.
Below is a dog tag fashioned by a prisoner of war, P.O.W., held captive perhaps somewhere in Asia (by the deign of the tower) during WW2. Notice the machine gun in the tower and the barbed wire fence.
And a dog tag made by a P.O.W. during the Boer War with a medallion made from a horn. You cab read ‘Boer Camp’ inscribed at the bottom.
This is the story of Military Dog Tags, coming such a long way from a name engraved on a stick of wood to stainless steel plates holding military and medical records and even microchips and, most importantly, the soldier’s name.
Below: dog tags from the Iraq/Afghanistan Dog Tag Memorial at the Museum of the Forgotten Warrior outside of Beale Air Force Base, California. The memorial honors all the men and women killed during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars as of October 30, 2011, containing 6296 individual dog tags. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Fowler)-source.
A dog tag,
A soldier’s surviving touch,
His last handshake,
His last word,
His last breath
Spared for those back home.
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Celebrate with me Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for and its 1 year anniversary from its publishing debut on Amazon.
Looking at war from the perspective of all those sucked into it, civilians, soldiers, military working dogs, MWD, and eve belligerents, Silent Heroes is a narrative about the value of life and the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the trauma of taking a human life.
“What I tried to convey through Silent Heroes is that all those impacted by war are, at the end of a fighting day, human being with dreams and families. A war’s consequences, like the shadow of a nightmare, reach far beyond the battlefield.Patricia Furstenberg
Perhaps being a woman that writes about war I couldn’t ignore my inner voice speaking for the daughter, the wife, and the mother in me.”
On the book itself and on how it came to be, read below.
Numerous other silent heroes, from countless wars, came before the book itself, especially the Military Working Dogs of Gulf War, Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. That was just the beginning.
Secrets Revealed in of Silent Heroes
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. A Mysterious Underground Fortress
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Military Chain of Command
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Taliban’s Secret Lair
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. Women’s Rights under Taliban
5 Secrets Revealed in Silent Heroes. The Humanity of U.S. Marines
Music often inspired me. I invite you to listen to some of the tunes behind Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for on the book’s 1 Year Anniversary:
The Music of Silent Heroes
The Setting behind Silent Heroes
The youngest human character in Silent Heroes is a little Afghan boy of eight years old, Rafik:
Rafik’s Travels in Silent Heroes
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Afghan Village
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. At Camp Bastion
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. The Afghan Desert
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. An Oshkosh Vehicle
Rafik’s Journey in Silent Heroes. The Hindu Kush Mountains
Of course, there would be no Silent Heroes, 1 Year Anniversary, without some:
Silent Heroes Poetry and First Chapters
If you love secrets and symbology you might enjoy reading:
Secrets of a Book Cover
Women Writing about War
And, how else:
The Bamiyan Buddhas stood for nearly two millennia as silent heroes, symbols of the Buddhist faith, witnesses to the hustle and the bustle of the Silk Route with its whirlwind of wealth, ideological exchange, and art, and to countless illogical wars.
In silence they stood since the middle of the first century, and witnessed. Did they know they were the largest in the world? Perhaps they heard rumors. Did they even care? I think not. Like the Buddhism they stood for, they enjoyed the freedom to observe and meditate, learning about human nature and that nothing lasts forever.
But how did the Bamiyan Buddhas really look like?
Yes, like standing Buddhas carved into performing specific gestures, but also carved into niches, allowing worshipers to circulate all around their feet, at the base of the statue, while meditating. They were not just shaped into the face of the mountain. By hairstyle they were Buddhist, but their capes showed clear Hellenistic Greek influences (think Louvre’s Winged Victory of Samothrace) as well as Indian elements. Two cosmopolitan masterpieces.
The tallest Buddha was almost as tall as the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, or half the height of the Victoria Tower, London, or almost a third of the height at which World Trade Center once stood.
If we would have a telescope to look back in time we would see:
‘a rock statue of the Buddha standing, one hundred forty or fifty feet in height, a dazzling golden color and adorned with brilliant gems.’
as well as
‘a copper statue of the Buddha standing, more than one hundred feet tall.’The Great Tang Records of the Western Regions (Da Tang Xiyu Ji) by Xuanzang (Hsuan-Tsang), chinese monk, description written in 643
What happened to the Bamiyan Buddhas, these Silent Heroes?
‘Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan had destroyed these colossal statues in March 2001. They started by damaging the Buddha with anti-aircraft firearms and cannons. Yet the damage inflicted was not enough for the Taliban. They returned with anti-tank mines that they placed at the statues’ bases. When sections of rock broke off, the statues suffered further damage. And still, they did not stop here. The Taliban dropped men down the face of the cliff. They had placed explosives into the various grooves found in the Buddhas. The plan was clear, to completely destroy the facial features of the two statues. Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran: Islam condemns idolatry. When one of the blasts could not destroy the facial features of one statue, a rocket was used in its place. It left a hideous gap in whatever was left of the Buddha’s head.
The Taliban did not succeed in wiping out the two Buddhas, but they became unrecognizable as the figures they once were. A cultural, religious, historical and entomological symbol and landmark.
It was a bleak day in human history when something that watched over the valley for 1 500 years was destroyed in a matter of weeks.
Thanks to 21st-century technology the larger of the two Buddhas has been reconstructed using 3D light projections. A holographic image which, unfortunately, is only unveiled rarely, during special occasions.’Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Why destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas?
Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran, as Islam condemns idolatry and Taliban was known for their extreme iconoclastic campaigns. Maybe a need for gaining global media attention. Or just pure evil.
Bamiyan is now listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in Danger.