Tragic scenes surfaced as thousands fled the Taliban's retaking of Afghanistan as the Western-backed government and security forces collapsed in a matter of weeks.
Then, American service members were among at least 182 people killed in outrageous terrorist attacks at an airport gate in Kabul at the hands of ISIS-K.
Thirteen of those killed in the blast were U.S. troops: 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and an Army soldier.
Marines traditionally honor fallen service members by carrying crosses, rocks and other items up First Sergeant’s Hill above the 5th Marines headquarters at Camp Pendleton.
Jon Veath, a Marine reservist in McAlester, wanted to replicate that tradition with a memorial he made of rocks and military flags at his home that is meant to honor those service members and help anyone trying to cope.
“I just hope people will see this and pause and know that these people laid down their lives to save people they don’t even know,” Veath said.
“That’s love,” he added. “And that’s what the world needs right now, is love.”
Our country continues down a path driven by political division that tears friends, families, and neighbors apart — yet Veath's memorial is a reminder that we are in this together.
Veath told us the memorial is open to anyone who wants to leave flowers, a prayer, or anything to honor the 13 killed troops.
Flowers strewn across the "Heroes 13" memorial and people honking in passing vehicles reminds us to care for each other.
The 13 service members reportedly carried babies and helped people get to safety.
The 13 service members gave up their futures that day to give thousands more people a future.
That's something our military members know is a possibility when they join. It's something we should all reflect on instead of spewing hatred at each other on social media.
We thank Jon for memorializing the 13 and sharing his story with us so we can help remind people we are better together.
• McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board