Operation Enduring Freedom, the US’s over-13-year-old campaign in Afghanistan, ended this week.
The next chapter in Afghanistan’s modern history — one that’s left all but the most remote corners of the country impacted by decades of conflict — is about to begin.
The country remains deeply troubled, with a resurgent Taliban, a highly suspect military, and an economy where the opium industry remains the largest single employer. But before the US invasion, before the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, and before the country’s Marxist experiment, Afghanistan used to be a far different place.
In the 60s, amateur photographer and college professor Dr. William Podlich took a leave of absence from his job at Arizona State University to work with UNESCO in the Afghan capital of Kabul, bringing his wife and daughters with him.
Later, his son-in-law Clayton Esterson found the late doctor’s photos and put them on the web. The response was amazing.
Esterson told the Denver Post: “Many Afghans have written comments [on our website] showing their appreciation for the photographs that show what their country was like before 33 years of war. This makes the effort to digitize and restore these photographs worthwhile.”
An earlier version of this article was produced by Geoffrey Ingersoll.