Khaled al-Asaad

Remember his name

Khaled al-Asaad.

Say that name.

Say it to others and to yourself.

If we talk of Palymra, we have to say Khaled al-Assad.

I hate the thought that his name is to be a passing mere sound on a news piece.

I never met him.  I do not know him.  But I am impressed, and I am in awe.

His name should have the equal weight of HECTOR.

Al-Assad stayed to face certain death, he was defending Syrian History as equal to Hector defending the city gates.   

Khaled al-Assad’s name should be discussed in coffee shops.  His name should be said somberly and with respect.  Khaled al-Assad should be shouted from rooftops.   He was a defender of history, the history of his country, in an age that did not care.

He was a Syrian archaeologist, the head of antiquities at the ancient city of Palmyra.  He held this position for over 40 years. 

There are some things you should be willing to put your life on the line for.  For Khaled al-Assad it was his nation’s heritage. 

He died defending Palymyra’s treasures and legacy against the whims of violent military extremists.  To al-Assad, the art, the history of a people long gone from the earth, was worth more than his own life. 

They tortured him.  They beheaded him.  They hung his body in a public square.   His severed head was placed at the bottom. 

A sign attached to his body accused him of inconsequential babble, apostate, traitor – but a traitor to what?  Not to his country, not to history, not to the people of Syria.  This is what he spent a lifetime protecting.  He was in charge of the Palmyra site for four decades.  When he retired he worked as an expert with the antiquities and museums department.    Al-Assad defended a site considered sacred as a UNESCO Heritage Site.  He defended a site sacred to Syria.

His friends asked him to leave as the fanatics approached the ancient city.  He refused.  His body, his silence, and the secrets he took to his grave. 

They wanted the artifacts he had hidden, so that they could sell them to fund their conquest.  

An eighty three year old warrior, Kaleed al-Asaad died at Palmyra defending the city gates of a place that spoke of the vast richness of the Syrian people. 

He had eleven children, six sons and five daughters, of which one was named Zenobia.