Monday, May 29, 2006


Memorial Day Wishes

Let's put aside our differences on the war in Iraq for just one day, and salute those whose lives were taken in service to country. These men and women knew damn well what might happen to them when they enlisted, yet they chose to enlist anyway. Many of these folks died in the midst of extraordinary heroics, many others just doing their job, which itself is heroic. I watch the faces flash by every night on the "News Hour" on PBS of those killed in Iraq, and I don't know which is sadder, to see those 18- and 19-year-old kids whose lives were stolen fromthem just as they started or those folks in their 30s and 40s, who leave children fatherless or motherless.

A few postings back, I lamented that I could never be a pacifist, as badly as I wish I could be one. Sadly, in this deeply flawed world, we need good people with guns and bombs to protect us from the bad people with guns and bombs who wish us harm. I still consider myself an activist for peace, and I still believe that war is an incredible evil that should be avoided as much as possible. Yet, we have fought just wars in this nation's history, and some of these wars just couldn't be avoided.

The expression "Freedom isn't free," has unfortunately been co-opted by the pro-war activitsts as a cudgel of sorts, and yet those words hold some truth. We can enjoy our mundane lives, relatively free of fear, because some good people have been watching over us for over 200 years.

Just to look at the numbers of these good people who have made the ultimate sacrifice can be overwhelming. Therefore I have posted below the numbers of Americans battle deaths in each war in our nation's history:

Revolutionary War: 4,435
War of 1812: 2,260
Mexican-American War: 1,733
Civil War: 184, 594
Spanish-American War: 385
World War I: 53,583
World War II: 292,131
Korean War: 33,651
Vietnam War: 47,369
Gulf War: 148
Iraq War: 2,465 (As of today, 5/29/06)

These numbers don't include thousands of non-battle deaths, yet war-related deaths, which deserve as much respect as those deaths which occurred in the heat of fighting.

I don't want to get maudlin or overly sentimental. Such expressions elicit more eye-rolling than appreciation, so I'll stop here and ask you to pause if you haven't already and say a prayer of thanks for these hundreds of thousands of Americans who aren't here today so that you could be.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?