Since 2003, nearly 6,000 Oklahoma members of the Army and Air National Guard have served in Afghanistan – that figure doesn’t even include the active duty service members who’ve served there. On April 5, that country’s ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hamdullah Mohib, spoke to the Oklahoma State Senate to say thank you to the troops, veterans and family members of those deployed to Afghanistan.
“I am in Oklahoma for one simple purpose and that is to thank the people of Oklahoma for their service to our country,” Mohib said. “We want you to know that your people made a huge impact and their sacrifices are not lost on us. We’re honoring what they have done and what your sacrifices were in our country to make sure we build a stable and prosperous Afghanistan but most importantly to bring stability to our country and our region. The people we have fought together and continue to fight today are terrorists who want to bring havoc on all of us, on all of humanity. Please pass my gratitude and the gratitude on behalf of my country to your people.”
Mohib was urged to come to Oklahoma by Jane Horton – her husband, Army Spc. Christopher Horton was killed in Afghanistan. She accompanied the Ambassador to the Senate, along with Capt. Austin Bond, an Oklahoma guardsman who served with her husband.
Mohib said Oklahoma contributed the highest numbers of troops per capita in the United States. He said their service made a tremendous difference.
“This past year alone, one million children enrolled in school. That in Afghanistan is five percent of the population. Out of the one million that registered, 40 percent were girls. You’ve helped us establish 135 private and public universities that graduate about 100,000 students a year. Today the population is more educated than ever in our history. They’re more connected to the world.”
Three members of the Oklahoma State served in Afghanistan, and they were very appreciative of the Ambassador’s remarks.
Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, served in the Marines. He said it represented a huge gesture of good will and faith.
“We’ve sent a lot of troops into multiple combat areas, and we stand for freedom, but it’s a great recognition,” Smalley said. “He’s seen so much, his people have seen so much. His people have lost a lot, but for him to still make that good faith gesture, to come over, recognize those of us that have served is tremendously heart-warming.”
Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, served in the Air Force.
“As a country we’ve sent a lot of troops, a lot of young people to that country in order to provide stability against terrorism – something that affected us all, we found out on September 11th,” Dossett said. “For him to come here, and reach out and show his appreciation for Oklahoma’s part in that….I think it’s really big that he’d take the time to do that. Sometimes veterans don’t always feel that people outside of our country appreciate our military, and this showed different.”
Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, also served in the Air Force, and was tremendously touched by the visit and the Ambassador’s remarks.
“That gesture of someone from a different culture, in a different part of the world, but still understands the sacrifice that our country and our people have given in the name of freedom, for him to come here personally is really a humbling experience for me and certainly something that will be very memorable. I just want to say thanks to all the veterans and all the men and women who served and also all the families who have to sacrifice as well—some of them had to make the ultimate sacrifice.”