Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This is interesting

A possible case of effective diplomacy in action? I'm not sure about that, but it's still cool.

Evidently a couple of American soldiers in Afghanistan were restoring an old soviet airforce memorial, dedicated to five of their pilots who were shot down by (most likely American provided) Stinger missles.

According to Fedchenko, who completed two tours in Afghanistan from 1986 to 1989, construction of the monument was a team effort by members of his Air Force regiment stationed at Bagram. "We had a lot of creative people there: artists, writers, painters, woodworkers," Fedchenko said. "So anybody who had some free time would help out."

The airplane model atop the concrete wall was fashioned out of wood -- no other materials were available -- by a pilot still flying in the Stavropol region, while a self-taught artist stationed nearby used photographs scrounged up from military papers to paint the oil-on-wood portraits of the pilots, Fedchenko said.

It's a memorial created by soldiers in a combat zone, being restored by soldiers in a combat zone.

Evidently, however, the soldiers who were working on restoing the monument have been ordered to stop, while the Army considers how to handle the monument.

I think they should allow work to continue, because as the main restorer says ""No matter if history is good or bad, it must be preserved," Keeley said in a Sept. 15 post. "Ray, Tom and I are 'soldiers,' like the five pilots honored by the memorial. I would hope another soldier would honor us as we honor these five men.""

There are other benefits to allowing the work to continue (some russians who learned of the project had reactions like: ""I've changed my mind about Americans," one forum user identified only as Airwolf wrote. "Thank you, David."" "Another forum user wrote that his "eyes became wet" when he heard about "such good people. Even among Americans, most of whom I dislike," he wrote." "Fedchenko called Keeley and his fellow soldiers "great guys who are doing a good thing.""), like improving relationships between Russian and America, but this could also be something like a symbolic demonstration to the outside that we are here not only to free the country (by tearing it's little infrastructure apart) but also to preserve it and rebuild it. We should be looking for other (non-russian) monuments from around the country to restore at the same time, but this memorial can be protected first.

If I knew where to send money or support, I'd tell you. Since I don't, for now I'll just have to publicize it a bit more than it has been.

It's a noble cause, and it is just one more way our military shows it's quality.

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