I remember years ago when I was in ninth grade. Our junior high school was about to become a middle school as the ninth grade would move into the high school the following year. As a result, this would be the final year that the junior high would have a marching band. I was the drum major of the marching band – the final drum major – quite an honor. Are marching band made its final appearance at the Memorial Day parade. There were two others who wanted to have the honor of being the drum major during our final march, but I didn’t want to share the glory.
But, it wasn’t about me. It was about them … the true heroes.
Years later, my wife and I chose to take our daughter to a local Memorial Day parade near our suburb home near Denver. We grabbed a plastic grocery bag and arrived along the path of the parade an hour early. We wanted a good spot. When the time arrived, we heard the parade arriving. It was very humbling to say the least. While there were a few candies tossed, the overall length of the parade was very short to say the least. About 50 people were lined up along the side of the parade route as far as I could see and the parade was about five minutes long. This is the best that Denver could offer our us?
But it wasn’t about me. It was about them…the true heroes.
Memorial Day is a day about remembering our heroes, both living and buried. However, it has become a different holiday – the first official day of summer filled with grilling, outside entertainment, and drinking. This is how social our generation has become instead of respectable as our previous generation is.
There are so many military conflicts over the life of our young nation. It is impossible to list them all, but here are the highlights.
Can you imagine a life without running water and no electricity? That was how life was like when our founders chose to separate our colonies from Great Britain. There were times when these “soldiers” walked miles with rags for clothes and some didn’t even have shoes. Yet, they fought on and won an extended six-year war. Approximately, 4,400 men were killed fighting for freedom and another 6,100 wounded. Of those wounded, many were proud farmers who were unable to maintain their home.
The Civil War was disturbing time in our nation’s history. Nearly 500,000 soldiers died in battle fighting for their cause. Over 280,000 were wounded Of those wounded, many arms and legs could not be saved and were amputated. How could a man live a life at that time without a leg or arm? Fortunately, the North survived, the nation remained intact, and slavery was abolished.
The World Wars were also a major military event that saw many courageous fighters enter battle. In an effort to save Europe from a brutal German regime and to protect China, Australia, and the Pacific from a Japanese invasion, Over 116,000 (First) and 405,000 (Second) men and women died in the largest wars imaginable.
The Korean War (which has not officially ended) was an effort to prevent communism from spreading throughout the Korean Peninsula. During this long “police action”, over 36,000 soldiers died and over 100,000 were wounded.
The Vietnam War was an military effort that drew the attention of many young men. They wanted to be victorious as their fathers were. Unfortunately, this was as much a political war as a military war. Nearly 90,000 men and women died in battle and another 153,000 returned from action wounded. Many were ignored, ridiculed, and were dejected. They fought for the same purpose as generations earlier but were turned away from the public eye. Extremely disgraceful!
The most recent military events, the Gulf Wars and the Global War on Terror, were successful; however, because of politics, many of the areas that were freed by the Americans and the coalition have now returned to the hands of the ISIS soldiers. Nearly 7,000 soldiers died in an effort to free the citizens in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Over 48,000 returned home wounded.
There are 604,800 seconds in a week. Why is this important? Imagine reading the names of those who had fallen while fighting for our freedom, the freedom many take for granted, the freedom that many choose to misuse for their own personal benefit. If a list of names of all of those who died in battle during the during our history were read, it would take longer than one week. Over 41 million men and women served in our nation’s history. Of these, 1,190,000 died in service. While reading each name of every fallen solder is impractical, it is eye-opening.
And, what about those within our community? The National Guard? The local police? The fire department? Local volunteers when disaster strikes? What about heroes who help those recovering from an earthquake, a tornado, or a flood? Many have died in an effort to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. Many citizens assist each other and are also heroes.
During this Memorial Day, celebrate the first day of summer, enjoy your family and friends. But, remember the purpose of the day. It is a day of reflection. It is a day of remembrance. It is a day of memories – both good and bad. Our nation has been involved in many wars not because it wanted to, but because it needed to – to protect our citizens from invasion and to protect our national interests.
May God continue to protect our nation through those soldiers who continue to offer themselves to a greater good!
Article by John Coder
Posted May 25, 2015