2019年11月22日 星期五

At War: What Thanksgiving looks like in a war zone

Earlier this year, we asked readers to share their stories of spending Thanksgiving in a war zone.
Soldiers enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at Forward Operating Base Airborne, near Maydan Sharh, Afghanistan, southwest of Kabul, in 2007.Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
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By Lauren Katzenberg

Editor, At War

Dear reader,

Sometimes Thanksgiving is most memorable when spent far away from friends and family — cobbled together with a few cans of vegetables and a makeshift bird. That’s the case for me anyway. In 2011, I was living in Kabul, working for an Afghan media company and living with about 15 other people from all over the world. We ordered two turkeys and purchased whatever vegetables we could get our hands on at the market. To our surprise, the turkeys arrived alive and flapping. When it was time to prepare dinner, my colleague Shoaib spent at least 15 minutes chasing them around the backyard, cursing in a mix of English and Dari.

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That night, everyone in the guesthouse — me and a mix of Europeans, Canadians and Afghans — gathered around our eight-foot-long dining table, chopping and dicing and layering vegetables and casseroles. (I was in charge of the potato gratin.) We drank, unearthing old debates that were reignited every time we opened a new bottle of whiskey. We created terrible-looking side dishes, smoked dozens of cigarettes and laughed at terrible jokes. It could have been any holiday, really, but it was the preparation of the food that brought us together and allowed us to forget about the war going on outside our compound walls. (Less than two weeks later, a bombing in Kabul during the Shiite holiday of Ashura killed more than 70 Afghans — an attack that several of my colleagues avoided by minutes.)

Earlier this year, we asked readers to share their stories of commemorating Thanksgiving in a war zone. For some, it was just another day at war, for others, it was holiday marked by grief, loneliness or loss. At War partnered with Sam Sifton and his team over at the food desk to share these stories. “The troops’ many battlefield foes did not observe their occupiers’ Thanksgivings,” writes C.J. Chivers in the accompanying essay. “While American commanders often briefly slowed operational tempo on major holidays, including Thanksgiving, ground and air patrols continued, and troops on them faced attacks. Troops on bases were subjected to indirect-fire attacks or answered calls for medevac or helped clear makeshift bombs — among the most dangerous missions of all.”

We hope you’ll give it a read.

— Lauren

Lauren Katzenberg is the editor of The New York Times At War channel.

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Behind the Numbers: 3

An Australian, Timothy J. Weeks, top, and an American, Kevin C. King, were abducted in Kabul in 2016.Al-Emara, via Associated Press

That is the number of years two Westerners — an American, Kevin King, and an Australian, Timothy Weeks — were held in custody by the Taliban until Tuesday, when the insurgent group freed both men in exchange for the release of three high-profile insurgent leaders. King and Weeks were both professors at the American University in Kabul when they were abducted in 2016. They were delivered to Special Operations forces in eastern Afghanistan and traded for Anas Haqqani, the brother of the Taliban’s military operations leader and a prominent fund-raiser and propagandist who had been in custody of the Afghan government since 2014, along with two other commanders. After being freed, both King and Weeks were taken to Bagram Air Base in northern Afghanistan, while the insurgent prisoners were flown to Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office. Read the full Times report here.

— Jake Nevins, Times Magazine editorial fellow

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