The tribute to 13 U.S. service members who died in the Kabul airport suicide bombings reminds one of the riderless horse symbolic of a hero’s absence.

A local combat veteran and a Cairo business owner devised a similar, somber yet elegant and, dare we say, beautiful salute of their own to honor the bombing victims during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Mike Adrian, commander of American Legion Post 983, works at the Cairo Citgo. He wanted to honor the American troops who died Aug. 26 and 169 supporting Afghan allies who also perished.

Adrian teamed up with Cairo Citgo owner Minhajuddin Mohammed to set up what has become known as a Table of Honor. The round table was set inside the building with 13 empty coffee cups — one for each service member killed in the blasts.

Adrian was inspired by social media, where he saw images of restaurants, bars and other businesses setting up similar displays. He is a 23-year Army veteran who knows well the hardships faced by troops in hostile nations, serving combat time in Iraq. He spoke last week in measured tones about the bloodshed at Kabul International Airport.

“To me it was very sad what happened,” Adrian said. “It didn’t have to happen, but it did. This is for them — the last cup of coffee that they will never have.”

Mohammed said he was proud to display the Table of Honor at his business.

“We lost troops over there — that is the most important thing,” said Mohammed, who emigrated to the United States from India. “We work hard for everything in this country and we lost them and miss them. It is important to protect the country.”

The Cairo Citgo Table of Honor won’t be there much longer. See it if you can. It’s a reminder of the ultimate sacrifices our troops risk when they give to their country and a fitting farewell to 13 Americans senselessly killed.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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