I wanted to take just a quick moment and talk about “Memorial Day.” I know I might be preaching to the choir, but many people fail to realize that Memorial Day was originally set aside to exclusively honor the fallen soldiers of our great nation. In fact, it was first observed on May 30th, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873, hence Waterloo, NY was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966. Since then the traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished, as many Americans have somehow forgotten the true meaning and traditions of this great day. To help re-educate and remind Americans, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed back in December of 2000, which asked that all Americans on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time, “Voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence for those who have sacrificed their life for our great country.” I know it doesn’t get much air time from the press, but I thought I would make mention of it in today’s letter. Having a grandfather who served in WWII and a father who served in Vietnam, I was taught at an early age to be thankful for the freedoms I have and the sacrifices that have been made by others. Though my father never wanted to talk about his time in the war, my mother let me see the letters he had mailed her on various occasions. By what I could gather in a few of the letters, I can only imagine some of the horrific experiences. My father simply said there was no reason to discuss the war, and that he only hoped neither I nor my children would ever have to experience such a thing. He was 18 when left and 22 when he came back home, I have to believe a forever changed man. Below I have included a partial list highlighting the estimated number of Americans who have been killed and or wounded while defending our freedoms. Take a moment and think about how many families have been torn apart or splintered in the wake of a fallen soldier. What I find even more hard to swallow is how some individuals and groups chose to disrespect the very freedoms so many have sacrificed for. Below are round estimates for soldiers found wounded or dead in the largest U.S. military conflicts. (Source: Wikipedia)
- 1775-1783 American Revolutionary War – 50,000 Wounded / 25,000 Dead
- 1812-1815 War of 1812 – 20,000 Wounded / 15,000 Dead
- 1846-1848 Mexican-American War – 17,500 Wounded / 13,300 Dead
- 1861-1865 Civil War – 1,300,000 Wounded / 750,000 Dead
- 1898 Spanish-American War – 6,000 Wounded / 2,500 Dead
- 1898-1913 Philippine American War – 11,000 Wounded / 4,200 Dead
- 1917-1918 World War I – 320,000 Wounded / 117,000 Dead
- 1941-1945 World War II – 1,100,000 Wounded / 406,000 Dead
- 1950-1953 Korean War – 128,000 Wounded / 40,000 Dead
- 1955-1975 Vietnam War – 215,000 Wounded / 60,000 Dead
- 1990-1991 Gulf War – 1,200 Wounded / 300 Dead
- 2003-2011 Iraq War – 37,000 Wounded / 4,500 Dead
- 2001 – Present … War in Afghanistan – 20,000 Wounded / 2,500 Dead
Freedom Is Not Free… by Kelly Strong
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud.
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No… freedom isn’t free.
I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands,
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
And unmarked graves in Arlington.
No… freedom isn’t free.
Paying Tribute… Must See Video!
I included a video I was sent several years ago. It was from a friend who had a son in the military. I never get tired of seeing it! The video is of Brandon Lara, from New Braunfels, Texas, coming back home to the US. Brandon was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, from Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Brandon died July 19th at the age of 20 in Ubaydi, Iraq, while supporting US combat operations. A military flight from Dover Air Force Base, Del., that landed at about 10 a.m. at Randolph AFB brought his body home to awaiting family members and military officials. After a Marine Corps, honor guard transferred the flag-draped casket from the aircraft to a hearse, the procession of base and local police cars, funeral home vehicles, family cars, and more than 100 Patriot Guard motorcyclists traveled from base operations and then down Harmon Drive between the rows of people lining each side of the street. Just outside the gate, the motorcade passed under an American flag suspended between the buckets of two outstretched ladders from fire trucks from Live Oak, Texas, and Universal City, Texas. From the base, the motorcade traveled down FM 78 to FM 3009 and up Interstate 35 to New Braunfels. Like the scene along Harmon Drive, thousands of people in the community lined the streets in Universal City and Schertz leading to the highway. The video below is shot from the dash camera of a police car in the procession. The appreciation seen by the American people has stuck with me ever since. I urge everyone to watch this video, pass it along and keep the spirit of our fallen soldiers alive. Click below to see video. It’s certainly worth your time…