The Kindest, Gentlest, Silliest Kid in the US Air Force Just Set Himself On Fire — Why?

Aaron Bushnell, age 25, self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C., 25 February 2024 in protest of the Zionist genocide in Gaza

Amy Sterling Casil

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Last social media post of Aaron Bushnell, shortly before he livestreamed his self-immolation

If you’re my age or younger, you have never known a United States that wasn’t propagandized — about nearly everything.

I was a little kid during the Vietnam War protests. Raised by my grandparents, I heard mostly the opinions of people who had served in the Second World War. No one talked about the Korean War: even Korean War vets kept a low profile at that time as the surviving ones still do.

Over 36,000 U.S. troops died in Korea, along with 4 million Koreans, both North and South. There were a few thousand U.N. troops who also died in Korea.

In my late 20s, I considered military service. My first full-time boss was a USAF retired colonel. Many other AF veterans were on our organization’s board or worked as volunteers.

I understood at that time what volunteering meant: I had to be willing to sacrifice my life for my country if needed.

Back at that time, I thought any war in which U.S. troops would be deployed, would be essential to defend our freedoms at home and to protect American lives.

But then I became pregnant with my daughter. I couldn’t go into OTS.

Now a man who is younger than my daughter, a USAF active duty member, has set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. Aaron Bushnell was clear-spoken and full of purpose when he walked to the gates of this embassy, and said,

“I will not be complicit in genocide”

prior to standing firmly in front of the gates and igniting the accelerant that burned him alive. His literal last words as he was engulfed in flame were, “Free Palestine!”

I have witnessed my country go from serious discussions of wrongdoing in war, such as the questions regarding the Iraq War (did Saddam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction?) and questions of “Why is our country attacking Afghanistan — why are we…

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Amy Sterling Casil

Over 500 million views and 5 million published words, top writer in health and social media. Author of 50 books, former exec, Nebula nominee.