May 28, 2007 4:56 pm
What people bring you joy in your life? Take a few minutes to think about that. It could be your children - seeing the next generation grow up before your eyes is breathtaking. It could be your parents - it’s easy to form a strong bond with the people who guided you as you grew up, especially once you’re an adult and realize that they did actually know what they were talking about. It could also be your siblings - brothers and sisters usually use each other for fighting partners, but unite against someone outside the family that comes against any of them. It could be your neighbors - people with whom you share a piece of land, evenings and weekends, and common values. It could be anyone, really, and it’s not limited to one person, or even one group. I hope that each of you reading this has many people from all these groups.
Now, think about where you would fit in other people’s lists. Who loves you? Who enjoys your company? Whom do you help to move furniture, or some other more-than-one-person household chore? Surely this list is long as well.
Now, imagine giving it all up. Give up the family, the friend, the acquaintances, and let them all give up you. That’s not a pretty thought, is it? It’s also not an uncommon occurrence - over the course of our nation’s history, nearly 2.8 million people have done just that. Here’s how that breaks down…
- Revolutionary War - 10,623
- War of 1812 - 6,765
- Mexican-American War - 17,435
- Civil War - 970,227
- Spanish-American War - 4,108
- World War I - 320,710
- World War II - 1,078,162
- Korean War - 136,935
- Vietnam War - 211,471
- Gulf War I - 760
- Gulf War II - 3,000+
2,759,436 - that’s roughly the population of Chicago. And, when you look at the highest numbers of casualties outside the Civil War, where they were all American casualties, the main fighters in World War I through Vietnam were drafted. The majority of them did not choose that path for themselves - it was chosen for them. Yet, they went, they gave it their all, and in doing so, we prevailed and freedom was maintained. Also, these numbers don’t include the brave men and women who have died in non-combat military operations and training exercises. Though their deaths were not on the battlefield, they were on duty; you can’t win a war with an unprepared military.
On this Memorial Day, think of the sacrifice that has been made over the past 230+ years to secure our freedom. And, remember those who, even as I write this, are risking their lives to preserve our freedom. Thank God for such men and women of courage and bravery, and may He continue to richly bless this land.