This week, gold star families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan in the final days of U.S. operations in that country will meet in Washington to mark two years since the fall of Kabul.
One of those participants is Paula Knauss Selph, who lost her son Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Christian Knauss on Aug. 26, 2021. Knauss was one of 13 American service members killed in what is now known as the Abbey Gate bombing.
Selph broke down in tears as she recalled to Scripps News how she found out on the phone from her other son.
"He said, 'Mom, Ryan is dead,'" Selph said. "I just couldn't believe that Ryan was gone."
Since that time, Selph has turned grief into action, which will be on full display this week in Washington as other gold star families who lost loved ones during the U.S. withdrawal will participate in a Tuesday roundtable on Capitol Hill.
The purpose, Selph says, is not only to mark two years but to also bring attention to what happened.
"Who is going to take responsibility for the loss of life and that debacle?" she questioned. "Is it the military to be blamed or is it political decisions?"
The event is occurring as Republicans on Capitol Hill continue their investigation into what happened. Within the last month, the State Department turned over to Congress around 300 related documents.
Meanwhile, a separate bipartisan Afghanistan War Commission continues its multi-year look into what went wrong. The White House earlier this year posted a 12-page review about the Afghanistan withdrawal on its website in which it placed some blame on the Trump administration for allowing the Taliban to be so organized.
"We continue to mourn the loss of the 13 heroes and vow to continue to support their families," the White House wrote.
The question of how Americans lost their lives isn't the only political debate happening two years later regarding Afghanistan. There remains frustration by some that the U.S. hasn't issued more visas to help more citizens of Afghanistan now trapped under Taliban rule.
As for Selph, she just hopes this issue is on voters' minds during the presidential election.
"Who is going to take responsibility for causing such chaos?" she questioned.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com