Five years without Justin
By Jason Reed and Larry Downing
America’s military commitment in Afghanistan has been long by any count. Ten years of bloody war fathered by an angry country seeking revenge after it was blindsided in deadly attacks on September 11, 2001. Innocent souls vanished forever inside the flames that day in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Since then thousands of combat GI’s from willing countries have answered their nation’s call to hunt down those thought responsible for that day who are still hiding along the dark footpaths snaking the dangerous countryside.
Every time a soldier, or Marine dies in combat, he, or she is quickly flown home to be buried by a grieving family.
Mother’s shattered hearts and fresh tears point the way to their own child’s gravesite; they soon discover they’ve passed the initiation into a painful sorority bound forever by the death of a child killed during war. A reluctant sisterhood living with sad stories and broken memories called “Gold Star Mothers.”
Paula Davis lost her 19 year-old son, Justin, while he fought in Afghanistan in 2006. He had vowed to his mom he’d never forget his childhood memories of September 11th and enlisted in the U.S. Army one week after graduating from high school.
She now spends her weekends numbly staring at “Justin R. Davis” etched on a simple white stone inside Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 60.
On the fifth anniversary of his death she celebrated his short life with friends and family, just days after President Obama announced a reduction of U.S. troops in that war.