I always appreciate seeing the Afghan national flag flying from a building or tower. To me, it represents a symbolic acknowledgement that Afghanistan is more than just a loose collection of tribes…that there’s a real nation here, proud and strong.
There are conflicting descriptions of what the colors represent, but I like this one, paraphrased from Flags of the World:
The three colours of the flag represent a different page in the history of Afghanistan. The black represents the 19th century era when Afghanistan was occupied and did not have independence, red marks the fight for independence and the green shows independence had been achieved.
Additionally, the colors have specific meanings within the Islamic faith. We’re taught that green stands for service to Allah, red for sacrifice, and black for martyrdom. Along those lines, I see the flag colors as symbolic of the members of the Afghan National Security Forces and the Coalition serving here in Afghanistan. To me, the green vertical represents service, writ large…service to each other, our families, our Service, our nations, and the God of our choosing. The red vertical is the sacrifices we make in order to build Afghanistan and protect its people…for some, a blood sacrifice. And the black signifies those who have given their lives for Afghanistan…445 Coalition members and 1,030 Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army members in 2009 alone.
Bottom line: Strips of cloth can be damaged easily, especially in a country like Afghanistan. But a flag represents an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.
* USMC photo by Cpl Aaron Rooks, from USCENTCOM