A Story of Great Courage
From www.Djou.com, November 11, 2016
As we digest the results of the 2016 election, I wanted to thank our nation's servicemembers and their families and share with you a memory from my time in Afghanistan. In the past, I've shared stories of American soldiers - true heroes - that I had the great privilege and honor of serving with, who gave their lives for our country. I think of them every day. Today, I've been thinking about an Afghan man who I had the privilege of knowing in Afghanistan.
In the photo at the top of this email, I am talking with Judge Saffi Ullah in late-2011. During my tour of duty in Afghanistan, I handled enemy prisoner of war matters for the Army and Judge Ullah was my Afghan counterpart. He was an Afghan judge who believed in the rule of law and loyally served his community. Judge Ullah believed cases should be decided by evidence without regard to family bonds; he believed women should have equal standing as men and all people should be treated the same regardless of tribal background. These views may be accepted as a given in our nation, but were radical concepts in Afghanistan.
In January of 2012, I met with Judge Ullah to discuss the hand over of captured enemy Taliban from American to Afghan detention supervision. Less than 24 hours after I last met with Judge Ullah, he went shopping for groceries at the local bazaar. In an attempted assassination, Taliban radicals sprayed Judge Ullah with automatic machine gun fire hitting him twice. Though he survived, Judge Ullah was severely crippled and local Afghans lost a courageous leader.
Judge Ullah and the soldiers I served with in Afghanistan remind me that there are causes worth fighting for -- that there are often setbacks - but that we must persevere. There will eventually come a day when we will have a two party democracy in Hawaii, where what you know matters more than who you know, and where government officials serve the people, rather than use their position to serve themselves.
Today, let's thank all of our nation's veterans who serve our country. We are the land of the free because of the brave.