I sit here thinking about words of encouragement and pearls of wisdom for the working woman on this Sunday before Memorial Day and I am at a loss. My words seem so insignificant, but I’m writing anyway. This Monday morning deserves more than best practices and philosophies. No level of business prowess can trump the efforts and sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces through the decades. This Monday I get the day off to pay homage to those warriors of days past, but will I actually do that?
Will I reflect on the stories of heroism for those who survived and those who died in honor of their country–my country? War has never been something I have understood, but it is something that always has been…like air and water…it just is.
I am humbled and I am broken as I watch the PBS Memorial Day concert. I am guilt-ridden when I think for one moment that I’ve had a remotely difficult day lately…or ever in comparison. I’ve never been to a National Cemetery on Memorial Day and I’m ashamed…tomorrow I begin the tradition. I cannot enjoy a day with friends without first making the somber trip to pay my respects. I can only apologize. I have become one of those people who takes for granted my fortunate life and my blessed existence.
But who do I thank? How many people do I owe a debt of gratitude? When and where did they fight? Can I make up for lost time and begin a tradition of memorializing our fallen heroes? I’m going to try.
According to HomeOfHeroes.com, since the birth of the United States of America on July 4, 1776, no single generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending freedom by force of arms. More than 42 Million American men and women have served in time of war…more than a MILLION have purchased freedom with their lives. Below are statistics from the US Department of Veterans Affairs detailing the war service and sacrifice of America’s sons and daughters. I’ve got some making up to do.
My final thoughts are to say to all who served, “thank you, I’m sorry, please forgive me and I love you for what you’ve done for me.”
|War||Dates||Served||Battle Deaths||Other Deaths||Wounded|
|American Revolution||1775 – 1783||217,000||4,435||Unknown||6,188|
|War of 1812||1812 – 1815||286,730||2,260||Unknown||4,505|
|Indian Wars||1817 – 1898||106,000||1,000||Unknown||
|Mexican War||1846 – 1848||78,718||1,733||11,550||4,152|
|Civil War (North)||1861 – 1865||2,213,363||140,414||224,097||281,881|
|Civil War (South)||1,050,000||74,524||59,297||
|Spanish-American War||1898 – 1902||306,760||385||2,061||1,662|
|World War I||1917 – 1918||4,734,991||53,402||63,114||204,002|
|World War II||1940 – 1945||16,112,566||291,557||113,842||671,846|
|Korean War||1950 – 1953||5,720,000||33,686||20,560||103,284|
|Vietnam War||1964 – 1975||9,200,000||47,410||42,788||153,303|
|Gulf War||1990 – 1991||2,322,332||148||1,194||467|