Yellow ribbons tied around trees in the Canterbury Woods neighborhood of Annandale are one veteran’s way of keeping the story of Afghanistan alive.
Retired Army lieutenant colonel Robert Williams tied bright yellow bows around his four trees. He then started walking around his neighborhood carrying a bag of ribbon. Curious neighbors stop to ask about his project.
“This is for all the American citizens and not the just Americans, our allies, for all the people that are stranded over there right now that we’re trying to get back home,” Williams told neighbor Kim Nguyen.
Nguyen fled Vietnam when she was a teen. Her older sister worked for the United States embassy and says she understands the fear of the Afghan people.
“We knew it’s not safe. We could feel the Viet Cong going to take over,” she explained to Williams.
“So, this is the same kind of feeling I think, that’s being repeated,” he replied.
“The Taliban. Same kind of thing,” Nguyen said.
“Yes. These people are in hiding and they know the Taliban’s going around. They’re knocking on doors,” Williams added.
Afghanistan holds special meaning for Williams. He spent 32 years in the Army and went to the country two times. Williams worked with NATO troops and got to know the Afghan people during a year-long deployment.
“I do feel like we deserted them. I really do,” he told 7News Reporter Victoria Sanchez.
He said it’s not about politics, it’s about getting Americans home and those who helped us to safety.
As Williams tied bows on trees along a trail, seven people stopped to talk and they decided to get yellow ribbon of their own.
“What do you think about that?” asked Sanchez.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I think a part of it is you need to turn the light back on.”
Williams said he will keep the light on with each bow until everyone is home.