“All gave some, but some gave all.”
That is the number of Americans who have died fighting for this country — and the ones who are being honored this Memorial Day weekend, which should not be confused with Veterans Day, a day to recognize the service of all our veterans. To put that number in perspective, at a rate of a single death per day, it would take 3,616 years to climb to 1.32 million dead.
The 1.32 million total includes the 25,000 who died during the American Revolution while liberating this country from the tyranny of taxation without representation imposed by England.
It includes the 625,000 who died during the Civil War, a conflict that remains our deadliest, but preserved the Union and added greatness to this country with the freeing of the slaves.
It includes the 116,000 who died during World War I, the conflict to end all conflicts, which sadly it didn’t.
It includes the 405,000 who died during World War II, when this nation came to the rescue of the world, defeating Nazi Germany and Japan.
It includes the 58,000 who died during the mistake that was Vietnam, but they were spared the indignity of returning home to a largely ungrateful nation, and the sights of American flags being burned.
And it includes the 6,000-plus who have died so far in Afghanistan and Iraq, unpopular wars that remind us all that our soldiers don’t get to pick the conflicts, they only get to sacrifice limb, life and sanity fighting them.
On Monday, there will be only a couple of events in Robeson County to honor our fallen heroes, and we can’t help but wonder why there are not more. If you are planning to attend an event, read staff writer Sara Willets’ Page 1A story today on when and where they will be.
Memorial Day was established as Decoration Day following the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in what remains this nation’s deadliest war. After World War I, it was extended to honor all this nation’s soldiers who died during all of our wars.
In 1971, Memorial Day was parked on the last Monday of May — and, embarrassingly, for most Americans, the holiday serves mostly as a reminder that summer has finally arrived.
But during this weekend, before you look forward to what we hope will be a summer of fun and prosperity, glance backward and honor those whose sacrifices have provided you that gift.