The 1.1 million
Today I want to ponder about Memorial Day. I know, itís the beginning of summer season. There is grilling, swimming, boating, and just plain olí relaxing on the holiday. None of that is bad; in fact itís good to take advantage of the day off most of us will have. Iím looking forward to it.
As we do all those things, letís also consider these facts from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The total number of Americans killed in all U.S. wars is more than 1.1 million. Think of that for a moment. Thatís the size of a city such as Dallas. Iíve been to Dallas many times. Itís a big place. Think of all the people who live there Ė thatís how many Americans have died so we can enjoy Memorial Day.
The totals of those killed from various wars are: Revolutionary War 4,435, War of 1812 2,260, Indians wars 1,000, Mexican War 13,283, Civil War 498,332, Spanish-American 2,446, World War I 116,516, World War II 405,399, Korean War 54,246, Vietnam War 90,220, Persian Gulf War 1,565, and Global War on Terror 6,852.
I took note that almost half of the total comes from the Civil War. That might lead to a pondering soon on Confederate monuments Ė that will wait for another day.
Think about the numbers. Each one represents an American who had parents; many had spouses and children, other family and friends. The numbers of all the people who mourned their loss raises 1.1 million many-fold.
Think about the potential lost. I donít think itís a stretch to say that most of the more than 1.1 million who died were young people. Some were in their teens, many in their twenties. Their whole life was ahead of them. What would they have accomplished had they lived a normal life-span?
But they didnít. They went to war. They served. They fought. They died.
As we grill, swim, boat and just spend time with loved ones and friends on Monday, we need to remember that they went to war. They served. They fought. They died.
We need to remember that without their sacrifice, we would not enjoy the freedoms that this great country affords us Ė the freedom to worship as our heart dictates, the freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble, the freedom of the press, the freedom to petition the government, and the right to keep and bear arms.
I cannot write this small opinion column each week without their sacrifice.
I cannot go to church wherever I please without their sacrifice.
I cannot vote without their sacrifice.
I cannot agree or disagree with our governmentís decisions with no fear of reprisal, locally to nationally, without their sacrifice.
I think about these things every Memorial Day. Iím sure you do, too, and we should Ė itís fitting and proper, even mandatory, that we do so. Where would be we today without their sacrifice?
This is why I get angry when people refuse to stand for the National Anthem.
This is why I get angry when I hear anti-America rhetoric from Americans.
This is why I get angry at the stupid statements some make like, ďIf (whomever) wins an election Iím moving to another country.Ē By the way, I donít see any of them doing that. Why? Because of the sacrifice of the more than 1.1 million, we live in the greatest country on earth.
Iíll never forget the only trip Iíve made to our nationís capital. That was several years ago now, and I really wanted to see the Vietnam Memorial. When I did, and I looked at the names inscribed there, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I spent a long time there, as did my kids. I wanted them to see the names. All those names. I told them those names were people who made it possible for us to enjoy freedom as an American.
I donít think I ever had, but I decided right then and there that I would never take our freedom for granted.
It is not a clichť. Freedom is not free. Somebody had to sacrifice for me to enjoy the freedom I have. Who sacrificed? The over 1.1 million. Their sacrifice was ultimate. It was final. It was forever.
May their sacrifice and our freedom forever ring.
God bless America.
Until next week Ö