Memorial Day 2010

27 May

Another re-post.

As of today 120 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far in 2012.

-Roy

(Originally posted as a Note on Facebook, May 31, 2010)

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. Sometimes we lose sight of what these holidays mean. We’ve Labor Day, President’s Day, Veteran’s Day, New Year’s…and the big ones, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In our secular nation, inclusive of all faiths, these are our high holy days. In keeping with our worship of nearly unlimited personal freedom we observe these days in whatever fashion we see fit. I notice that lately this mostly means get-togethers with friends, vacations and mattress sales. I’m not going to take up a bunch of your time bemoaning the lack of ritual in our modern and very diffuse society, but I am going to ask that you take just a little time to remember the meaning of this particular holy day.

“Freedom Isn’t Free,” a bumper-sticker cliché we’ve all used at one point or another. It implies a cost for the largely care-free existence we enjoy in these United States at the beginning of the 21st Century. But how often do we stop to examine that cost? Certainly at election time when we hear a lot about the defense budget. The deficit. The incomprehensible price of our two current wars. The efforts of this Senator or that Representative from whatever district who is trying to save jobs by saving the defense contract for a company in their hometown (Or a Senator or Representative from a different town who wants to look fiscally responsible by stopping it). But when do we examine the greater cost? The cost in lives? The bill that comes due and is collected in the blood of our sons and daughters, our neighbors and our friends when they put on our nation’s uniform, pick up a weapon and purposely put their bodies between us and our enemies? When?

Today.

There are many who answer America’s call to serve. Most will serve in a time of peace. Most will never see a battle. Many who do fight will return wounded in body and spirit, and some will not recover. We honor them on another holy day, and I certainly hope we all do our best to let them know every day that we appreciate their service. But today is not their day. Today is when we honor our dead. Today is Memorial Day. Today is the day when we count the cost, and that cost is high.

On April 19th, 1775, British troops arrived at Concord to find an American militia drawn up on the village green. The first American soldiers fell at Concord. Since that time Americans have fought in more than 40 named conflicts around the globe. Men and women wearing our uniform have given their lives on the beaches of tiny islands thousands of miles from our shores. They’ve died in forests in France, in Central America, China and gone to sea never to be heard from again. The life of every father, mother, son and daughter lost goes to that debt.

In all those years since Concord over 958,000 service members have died in combat. That is a rough average of 11 lives for every single day since April 19th, 1775. Today is the day we remember that in order for each of us to get up, leave our homes and go about our day freely and in peace, 11 fellow citizens have died. So that you and I can take our family vacation, so that we can sit and laugh with our friends by the pool, so that we can cook burgers on the grill and drink a beer…

A land owner carried his own musket to Concord and died fighting the British.

A father from Pennsylvania charged into massed cannon at Fredericksburg.

A man from Harlem died fighting alongside the French to take the village of Séchault.

A Marine died on a river in China.

The Captain of the USS West Virgina was killed by shrapnel at Pearl Harbor.

Someone’s brother drowned at Omaha Beach.

Someone’s husband fought the controls of his B-29 all the way down.

A sailor burned to death rather than leave his post on the Intrepid.

Someone’s sister died tending the wounded at Anzio Beach.

Someone’s son died in Afghanistan.

Someone’s daughter was killed by an IED.

“Freedom isn’t free.” 11 lives for every single day. That is the cost. That is why we take this day to memorialize.

Remember.

Roy Guill

May 31, 2010

American Cemetery above Omaha Beach, Normandy

© 2012 Roy Guill, The Naked Investigator

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