National holidays aren’t really that big a deal at Camp Eggers. First, every day is a work day…there’s just an infinite number of things here that desperately need doing. Second, we’ve got service members from 47 countries involved in NTM-A (43 in the International Security Assistance Force, plus Mongolia, Egypt, the Republic of Korea, and of course, Afghanistan)…if we tried to celebrate all the national holidays we’d do nothing but hold ceremonies! That said though, we did set aside a few minutes back on the 4th of July for a short cake-cutting ceremony. The best part, by far, was the Afghan National Army band, which played the Afghan national anthem** and then ours. The band played well…not great, but plenty good enough for a country at war. And it wasn’t really about the tunes anyways, it was about an Afghan band, that we built, playing our national anthem, on our Independence Day, in Kabul. As my kids would say: Epic!
The similarities and differences between the Afghan and US national anthems are interesting. Both countries have a long, proud military heritage (though of course Afghanistan’s goes back tens of thousands of years, and the US’ a mere 234). And both anthems were born in battle–Afghanistan’s during the current insurgency and the US’ during the War of 1812. But the Milli Surood is much less militant than The Star Spangled Banner. Except for one snippet (“…the land of sword, each of its sons is brave…”), it paints a picture of Afghanistan as “a land of peace” and “the country of every tribe”. It’s not there yet, of course, but Afghanistan’s choice of national anthem gives me hope that it’s headed in the right direction…
This land will shine forever, like the sun in the blue sky
In the chest of Asia, it will remain as the heart forever
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
* CSTC-A photo