THESE DAYS, Americans are not often confronted with the fact that the nation’s longest war is still cutting short the lives of its soldiers. But our war in Afghanistan, in its 19th year, rages on, and it has ended the life of Marine Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks of Locust Valley, N.Y.
Hendriks, a 26-year-old reservist and infantry machine gun specialist, was killed Monday when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb near the U.S. base in Parwan Province. Also killed were Sgt. Christopher A. Slutman of Yonkers, a New York City firefighter, and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines of York, Pa.
It’s not surprising that the war has mostly faded from the top headlines. More than 2,300 U.S. service members have died in the conflict, 13 last year and seven this year. The United States once had 100,000 service members there, but now has fewer than 14,000. And with then-President Barack Obama promising to end the war in his second term and President Donald Trump promising the same since his presidential campaign, many Americans likely have a sense that this war is largely past.
But Hendriks’ mother, Felicia Arculeo, said she is “broken into a million pieces.” His brother, Joseph Hendriks, also a Marine stationed in Afghanistan, is accompanying the body home.
The United States went into Afghanistan to destroy al–Qaida and remove the Taliban from power. Today, America is trying to negotiate a peace that grants the Taliban power in hopes it can control the Islamic State insurgents who sprang up when al–Qaida faltered.
Hendriks died doing his duty for his nation. That nation has a duty to stop asking its soldiers to die for no clear purpose in Afghanistan.