The average age of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the suicide bombing last month at the Kabul airport was 22.
That means most of those soldiers were toddlers during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
This may come across as a random statistic, but for many Gen Zers, it’s personal.
Many of us were not alive or were too young to understand why the U.S. entered Afghanistan, yet our peers were tragically killed 20 years later because the Biden administration botched the troop withdrawal.
We can debate the merits of starting the Afghanistan War to begin with, but that would not be a worthwhile discussion when it comes to these recent losses.
These young men and women loved their country enough to fight for it and no longer have the opportunity to enjoy the bright future that was ahead of them.
“I love my job,” 23-year-old Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee posted to Instagram alongside a photo of herself caring for an Afghan baby — just days before her death.
Then there were those like 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, whose family was in the business of helping others.
“Hunter was the victim of vicious evil and was killed because he wore a United States Marine uniform with love and pride,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
“Our entire community feels the anguish, and we mourn the death of Hunter, who answered the call to serve, defend and protect our nation.
“Like his parents who serve our community, being a Marine to Hunter wasn’t a job; it was a calling. He loved his family, and as we grieve for Hunter and his fellow Marines taken from us too soon, there are simply no words to express how deeply he will be missed — Semper Fi.”
As someone who was raised in Southern California, these losses hit extra hard. Ten of the 13 victims were part of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment stationed at Camp Pendleton, according to the San Clemente Times.
The community in and around Camp Pendleton cares deeply about active-duty service members and veterans, so it is heartbreaking to think of their struggles during this time.
Many young people are predisposed not to care about current events — but these were our classmates, friends and family members who put their lives on the line and died in what was ultimately a preventable tragedy.
This should be a wake-up call for young Americans to honor the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, even if the left has stigmatized patriotism.
The war on terror has truly had an intergenerational impact, and historians and political thinkers will be analyzing its political consequences for decades.
For now, families and friends are still grieving the loss of the troops who were taken too soon.