This is where they killed me. Chased me through a neighborhood in a pickup with a shotgun and pistol and shot me.
Or maybe it would be if I were Ahmaud Arbery. Here in America, not in Afghanistan where I first truly tasted “there but for the grace of god go I”
This is the ordinary street, the beautiful neighborhood where I finished my run 2.23 miles to commemorate the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year old Black Man out on a jog on 23 February 2020. Here is the place where it could have been me. I’m used to having occasional thoughts like this.
But not usually here in my neighborhood where I run. Usually they are about a dusty little village west of the stream from Chapawali, Nawa, Afghanistan. Where a 26 year old me ducked behind a mud wall under machine gun fire, laughing in relief and surprise with a 26 year old Sergeant Chris Hrbek. Who would soon receive the Bronze Star Medal with a Combat V for Valor, and a Purple Heart. Posthumously. He was cut down by Home Made Explosives.
Both of these men were cut down in their youth. I was not. I am lucky, I am privileged to not have been. I’ve married my wife, gone back to school, had daughters. These men would have had a story too.
I also wasn't shot in ramshackle barracks in Lashkar Gah Afghanistan. Unlike LtCol Benjamin Palmer who was killed by one of the very Afghan Border Police he volunteered to deploy to train. After he married his wife, went back to school and had children. Unlike Sgt Balduf who was killed in the same attack. Or unlike Sgt L, SSgt E, or SSgt W, shot and wounded in the same attack to varying severity.
I am fortunate. I am privileged. I am lucky to be here. To not have been each of them. But there is a difference in kind here. Each of these Marines volunteered to assume the risk they did. None of them deserved to be killed.
It is only just to kill another person if they are trying to kill you or someone you are protecting. That’s it. None of these killings were just.
But at least the others that took my brothers were in a war zone. Not at home where they should be safe.
I happen to be white. It is unjust that if I happened to be black, like Ahmaud Arbery, there would be a greater chance of me being killed out on a run. It’s unacceptable that SSgt E (who is white) has that same privilege and SSgt W (who is black) does not.
We need to fight for a world with equal rights for all. Where our children are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Where our laws respect and protect all of our people. Where the rights of all are secured equally and all enjoy the rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Thats why I joined. Why I fought. Why I Run With Ahmaud.