Afghanistan’s province of Kandahar is located in the arid, southern region of the country, bordering Pakistan. The more than 900,000 people who …
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Afghanistan’s province of Kandahar is located in the arid,
southern region of the country, bordering Pakistan.
The more than 900,000 people who live there are confronted with
brutal summer heat, difficulty in obtaining an education and
frequent, Taliban-related violence.
Somewhere amid this 21,000-square-mile swath of land, Cpl.
Brandon Kirton lost his life. He was killed just 12 days before
The soldier from Centennial was 25 years old when he died from
injuries sustained during a battle with insurgents May 18. Kirton
was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, stationed in Fort
Campbell, Ky., which straddles the border with Tennessee.
Raw information and a map of where his career took him, however,
hardly tell the story of a life.
For that, you’ll need to check into the hearts of the people who
knew Kirton, even if what we have so far is just a tiny
A Facebook page was set up to honor him: “RIP to an amazing
Soldier Brandon Kirton.”
You’ll find he had a great sense of humor and was known to cheer
people up. He would help people with yard work.
“I guess heaven was needing a hero,” one woman wrote.
“I think God’s arsenal of his army just got stronger,” posted a
Kirton was a 2004 graduate of Englewood High School. He played
sports for the Pirates.
He joined the Army in 2008. He became a Screaming Eagle, as
members of the 101st Airborne are known.
Just last year, he became a father.
You can imagine how much he wanted to see Heaven again. She is 9
months old. According to one of Kirton’s former high school
teachers whose children were friends with him, Kirton had only seen
his daughter once.
That same teacher, Beth Hankle, said Kirton was expected to
return home a couple days before Memorial Day. She remembers the
teenager who talked about going into the military, and the man who
She’s cried since getting the news, and surely, so have many of
those who posted on the Facebook page.
Thousands of Americans have died in the War on Terror over the
past decade. Millions of tears have been shed.
National and world media outlets have reported on a number of
violent outbursts in the Kandahar province over the past month. The
Taliban is not done yet, and neither are soldiers like Kirton.
As with some past military conflicts in U.S. history, it is
difficult to get into a conversation about the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq without politics creeping in.
We’ve been over there too long, some say. We never should have
been there in the first place, you’ll hear.
Others will contend it is our nation’s duty to help those who
are oppressed, wherever they may be.
Often, which argument is made depends on which capital letter
represents a person’s party affiliation.
But is there room for politics in the place where memories are
May 30 is Memorial Day.
Whom will you remember?
Chris Rotar is a news editor for Colorado Community
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