On Sunday, 13 pints of Miller Lite stood vigil at an empty, but reserved, table at The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant on Columbia Pike.
The beers represented the 13 U.S. servicemen and women who died in suicide bombings at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul that also killed 170 Afghan civilians. Terrorist group ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attacks conducted during the evacuation.
A woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, had purchased the beers after seeing posts on Facebook of similar scenes at other bars and thinking to herself, “This is good. This is something to do.”
Similar scenes played out in Courthouse at Ireland’s Four Courts and across the country, as individuals and bars have poured out beers and placed them at reserved tables to pay tribute to the fallen troops.
For the Celtic House patron, the little tribute and the now-complete withdrawal effort, were personal.
“Just by way of background, my husband died from suicide last year,” she told ARLnow. “He had several tours in Afghanistan. This is the kind of thing, that if he were still here — well, first of all, he would’ve been super upset — but this is something he would’ve done. It was a way to honor those who were lost and honor him, in a way.”
The woman said the last few weeks have been hard on her, and she had to stop watching the news coming from Afghanistan. Going to the bar, which she said is her local watering hole, was also a way of distracting herself from the news of Hurricane Ida that devastated her hometown of New Orleans (the remnants of which are now bound for the D.C. area).
The reaction to her beer purchase was positive, she said.
“I didn’t have my phone yesterday,” she said. “I got the guys to take a picture, and send it to me. I did post it on Facebook, and got positive reactions there, and I sent the pictures to a bunch of my husband’s friends.”
The Celtic House didn’t charge her for half of the beers, she said — but she would’ve still done it if they had. The bar posted the picture on Twitter on Sunday.
Remembering those servicemen and women who lost their lives this week in Afghanistan, an extremely nice gesture by one of our regulars today. pic.twitter.com/UF8npV8qAs
— The Celtic House (@CelticOnThePike) August 30, 2021
A similar tribute could be seen at Ireland’s Four Courts. On Saturday, a group of Marines who were regulars four years ago and have since moved back to the area, ordered 13 beers, General Manager Dave Cahill said.
They were placed on a table reserved all weekend with a napkin note that read “reserved for our fallen heroes.”
Cahill connected the tribute to the “Missing Man Table” tradition of setting a table for fallen or missing soldiers with a number of symbolic pieces. People with loved ones buried in Arlington National Cemetery regularly come to the pub and place a mug on the table in memory of the deceased friend or family member, he said.
“We have a lot of Marines who come in here,” he said. “A lot of Marines would be deployed here for a number of years, and people who are visiting Arlington Cemetery come in as well.”
— Irelands Four Courts (@irelands4courts) August 29, 2021
The Celtic House patron said hers was a “trite little gesture,” but she encouraged people to reach out to the veterans in their lives, support organizations and get involved in other ways.
“The idea should be that, all the people who were with them — and not even the people wounded — they’re all going to suffer unimaginable trauma from seeing their friends blown to pieces, and trying to rescue them. One hundred seventy civilians were also killed,” she said. “Just get involved. See what you can do.”
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