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Who Will You Remember This Memorial Day?

Updated on August 23, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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.



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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 6 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Walter Hamilton, Laura Walker, and Aaron Wittman - the soldiers I knew who gave all their tomorrows so we could enjoy our todays.

      Please don't wish anyone a "Happy Memorial Day." It is a day to reflect on those we've lost with gratitude.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      This was one of my first hubs, written a couple of years ago. In that time, three of my friends have lost their children in Afghanistan. In this political season much will be said about these recent wars. But politics aside, those young lives were given for us all. Never forget.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      An important and meaningful read, evn the second time, in fact every time. Theresa

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Roger that.

    • TDowling profile image

      Thomas Dowling 3 years ago from Florida

      ATTN: Patriotic Americans-

      Take a look at Bing.com today for visual inspiration.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      RTalloni: You are so right. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      It's so important to take this time to remember the losses, consider the costs. Glad to see this highlighted again.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      TDowling: Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this hub. Actually, in the time since I first wrote it two families we know have lost a son (Aaron Wittman) and a daughter (Laura Walker) in our recent wars.

      You are right about the Vietnam Memorial. I remember when it was first built and the controversy that it was too morbid - not a fitting tribute. I think it is vivid and accurate, as you so beautifully expressed.

    • TDowling profile image

      Thomas Dowling 3 years ago from Florida

      Kathleen:

      Glad you wrote this to keep the service people on everyone's mind this weekend. Memorial Day used to be a morning of parades and remembrance followed by afternoon picnics and bar-b-ques. Today, the grills are a blaze all day, but the men and woman who sacrificed for our freedoms are left out of their holiday.

      = = = The thing that I remember most about the Vietnam Memorial was as you walk along the wall (with the deaths listed chronologically) it starts out below your knees and slowly grows. When you get to the center the granite wall towers above your head and everywhere you look are those names; all those lives. It takes your breathe away.

      Peace,

      -TD

    • profile image

      Cathy Gore 4 years ago

      Great post my friend!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Most Americans do not remember, much less honor, our fallen soldiers, men and now women, nearly as much as we should. It is a sad commentary that for many of us Memorial Day is a picnic or BBQ or a game day with family and friends. And as good and wholesome as those things may be, they do not do justice to those who gave their lives for their country, for us. Thank you for the reminder. Sharing.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      A moving reminder of the things we take for granted. It is unfortunate that many have been lost in wars that should not have been fought, but they deserve to be remembered nonetheless. This is well done, Kathleen.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Is that right? I need to brush up on my MASH. Thanks Kas - I'll make the edit.

    • profile image

      Kas 5 years ago

      Henry Blake said that to Hawkeye.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      None at all - I'm flattered. Thanks for your comments too.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Glad to see your Memorial Day post highlighted--it's important to remember! Am linking this hub to mine on Memorial Day if you have no objection.

    • Verily Prime profile image

      Verily Prime 6 years ago from New York

      Rightly said - WE TAKE SO MUCH FOR GRANTED knowing that those who died young were the ones providing the cornucopia.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

      I am standing and applauding you! I am moved by your honest reminder. Freedom is really not all that free. Nice job here--great respect for this work Kathleen.

      K9