From 1838 until 1842 the British occupied Afghanistan.  The Second Anglo-Afghan War was fought in 1878.  And the Third Anglo-Afghan War was fought in 1919 which resulted in the creation of Afghanistan as an independent state.  Its 1923 constitution provided for the education of women and made slavery illegal, though it remained a monarchy.

A decade of low-level civil war and palace assassinations ended with the 40-year reign of Mohammed Zahir Shahwhich which developed close ties with the Soviet Union.  A 1973 bloodless coup then produced the first President of Afghanistan which gave way to a Marxist revolution in 1978.  Yet another round of palace assassinations and the Soviets invaded in 1979 and attempted to re-establish the education of women and other reforms.

The three hottest battles of the Cold War were Korea, Viet Nam and Charlie Wilson’s War.  That third battle ended when the Soviets pulled troops from Afghanistan in 1989 (the year the Berlin Wall came down) and pulled all support of Afghanistan in 1992 when the Soviet Union dissolved.

The Islamic State of Afghanistan was established (Arab Muslims had brought Islam to Afghanistan in 642) and the Soviet-fostered civil conflict changed to a Pakistan-fostered one, with the Saudis and the Iranians supporting different militias.  Total bloody civil war arose.

In 1994, a political-religious-military force called the Taliban gained controlled of Kandahar and much of the south of the country.  In 1996, with military support from Pakistan and Saudi financial support  they captured the capitol of Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.  A fierce Islamic fundamentalism was re-imposed.

The northern rebel armies of Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ahmad Shah Massoud combined to form the Northern Alliance.  The al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri was established under the protection of the Taliban.  Dostum was defeated in battle in 1998 (though he is presently Vice President of Afghanistan) and Massoud was assassinated on September 9, 2001.

Two days later, al-Qaeda conducted the 9/11 attacks.  The United States has had a combat footing in Afghanistan ever since.

Ten years after those attacks, Osama bin Laden was killed.  His al-Qaeda organization had been decimated.  The Taliban has been reduced to a persistent insurgency.  And now, six years after the death of bin Laden, we dropped a Massive Ordinance Air Blast (aka MOAB, GBU-43/B and “mother of all bombs”) on a concentration of al-Qaeda’s successor in Afghanistan, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (aka ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) located in a cave complex in the Momand Valley of the Achin District of Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

Abdul Haseeb Logari was a Taliban commander who inherited the ISIS franchise in Afghanistan/Pakistan after the first ISIS commander, Hafiz Saeed Khan was killed by a U.S. drone strike.  Two weeks after the MOAB explosion, Abdul Haseeb Logari and 35 in his command were killed in that same Momand Valley during a three-hour firefight with soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and Afghan Special Security forces.  Rangers Joshua Rodgers and Cameron Thomas were also killed in that fight.

Did Josh bring civilization to this wretched corner of the world?  No, probably not.  Did he prevent another 911?  Maybe.  In our country, we have a political process that empowers a Commander-in-Chief to employ our vast military in the service of American interests.  Josh didn’t make policy; he was an instrument of policy.  A month before the raid that killed Abdul Haseeb Logari and Joshua Patrick Rodgers, the former attacked a 400-bed hospital in Kabul.  During the funeral service for the latter, Reverend Mike Baker, pastor of Eastview Christian Church said of Josh “He's a person who made a difference. He voluntarily went, knowing it could take his life, to save other people, to take out evil.”

His obituary concludes, “Josh and every other person who honorably serves in our military knows and accepts that risk, but does it anyway. They are smart, strong, talented and focused, filled with honor and pride. ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’"

Josh was filled with honor and pride.  The church for his funeral is located next to the high school from which he graduated just four years ago.  Some of us are two or three times his age.  Bill Jones briefed us on what to expect.  Most of us came from Patriot Guard Region 4 of Illinois but also farther – I traveled 150 miles – and some came from Iowa and Indiana.

Region 4 Senior Ride Captain Rick Dailey was among us.  This would be a simple mission.  We would stand at the church and then escort to the cemetery.

Ride Captain Jon Beck was in charge.  Region 4 is blessed with good depth of experienced leadership.

But some of us are even younger than Josh.  For years, I brought my grandson Kevin on missions.  Katie is the girl on the right, below.

And Katie’s father is on the right, below.

We stood in shifts so that we would do a good job of flag-holding.  Those of us not standing at the church would rest at the bikes.

Katie showed the older guys how it’s done.

After the four-hour visitation, while the service for Josh was conducted inside, we staged the bikes outside in anticipation of the eight-mile procession.

All along the eight miles from the church to the cemetery, people lined the street.  Few of them knew his parents but they all felt they knew Josh.

This Saturday had become beautiful, and a fine opportunity for families to teach and learn American values.

Before the hearse arrived, we watched the military pallbearers rehearse.

The VFW took their place, adding decorum to the ceremony.

The entire cemetery was manicured, peaceful and waiting for Josh.

And the cemetery was ringed by neighbors who appreciated the way Josh lived his life.

A short life of great accomplishment.

But while the accomplishment belongs to Josh alone, the risk was shared with his family.

There would be three folded American flags presented to his survivors.  On the left below you can see the two buglers facing each other across the field.  They would play “echo Taps.”  There was also a bagpiper and a rifle detail.  The ceremony would make a powerful statement about the contribution and sacrifice that Josh made.

At last, Josh arrived.  He was carried across the field in front of his 3rd Battalion comrades.

A thousand mourners would have crowded that quiet cemetery, but only a few dozen were permitted graveside.

I wonder if those few dozen understood the salutes that were exchanged  when those folded flags were passed from soldier to soldier.  The guests from the 3rd Battalion knew.  The two soldiers, just two feet apart, slowly saluting in sequence are not gesturing at each other – they are paying respect to the folded flag that Josh served.  It is the symbol of the culture for which Josh died.

And that is why the Patriot Guard displays Old Glory – to remind everyone that the warrior we honor has died for a worthy and grateful culture.  Like most of the mourners, we were excluded from the cemetery so we made our display from just beyond the chain-link fence.

Then we were done and it was time to wrap the colors.  And if you want a tight wrap, you put two cigarette smokers on the job.

But some of us lingered, in awe of the soldiers who carry the colors into the 21st Century.

The United States of American has been a growing model of democracy, liberty and justice for eleven generations.

From the strength and courage of men like Josh there will be at least a twelfth.

Josh did it for Katie.