Local News Brought Home

The Jordanian pilot’s plane was coming down, there was no stopping it. The month was December, and it looked as though his mission against the Islamic State would inevitably fail. His landing in Syria should have only meant that he was making his contribution to the cause of bringing down IS. He was captured quickly, most likely to be tortured and beaten. The coalition could do nothing – only wait and see what was to come of this pilot’s fate.

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It has been two years since I spent my semester in Yosemite National Park’s magnificent backyard. APU’s High Sierra program is renowned on campus as a program that excellently weaves academia with community values. I acknowledged my appreciation for this fact when I read in my e-mail that there would be an alumni bonfire at the Smith Pit. Of course I would be there.

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IS posted via Twitter the video depicting what became of the pilot. He was seen walking at gunpoint amongst the rubble of previous coalition air strikes against the jihad extremists. Twenty two minutes of suspense and agony for something none wanted to witness. It all ended in flames as Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was burned alive in a cage, ultimately resulting in his death.

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I show up to the fire to see familiar faces from my semester – some more expected than others. Either way, embraces were had, s’mores were made, camaraderie was commenced. The smell of the fire’s smoke on my clothes and my hair bring me comfort; the heat on my face and my hands bring me delight.

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“It is every Jordanian’s duty to stand together,” King Abdullah of Jordan responded, staring into the blaze of death and torment.

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“I’m grateful that all of us High Sierrans have stuck together throughout the years,” I said, smiling into the warmth and majesty of the bonfire’s flames.

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