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Who Will You Remember This Memorial Day?
Only one percent of Americans serve
Someone once said some of us must give up the things we hold most dear so others of us might take those very things for granted.
That's not even close to a direct quote, and I don't remember who said it, but I'm reminded of the truth of it with Memorial Day approaching.
It has been documented that approximately one million, two hundred twenty-six thousand, eight hundred lives have been lost by United States military members since the Revolutionary War. I only personally know one of those. My Mother's oldest brother was killed in World War II driving a truck in Iran. I've only seen his picture and heard stories about him. But on Memorial Day, he is the fallen soldier I'll honor because he's the only one in my family who gave his life for the rest of us.
Most of those million-plus soldiers, sailors and marines died young. Very young. Which means when they lost their lives, they lost about two thirds the number of years I have been alive. Most of them never grew old enough to have gray hair or teenage children. There are a lot of days when most of us don't consider either of those things a blessing. But I guess we should.
If you have ever been to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. or if you have even seen a picture of it, you know the most unsettling thing about it is the fact it is made up of a massive list of names of those who died in that war. Each name engraved on that wall represents a real life that is now gone.
Standing in front of the monument, it seems the list goes on forever. But it displays less than sixty thousand names. That is only .02 percent of the total number of lives offered in exchange for freedoms we often hardly notice.
In the old television series, MASH, Colonel Henry Blake tells Dr. Hawkeye Pierce the first rule of war is: young men die. And the second rule of war is you can't change the first rule. In recent years we've extended that rule to include young women. That rule has been true since the beginning of time and will no doubt be true as long as one group takes up arms against another until the end of time.
This Memorial Day while you're taking the day off work or school, while you're making your annual first trip of the summer to the lake, or while you're eating a hotdog at a neighborhood softball game, take a minute to remember how many Americans have given up their chance to do those things - so you could.