I always wondered just how long it took after Abraham Lincoln was shot before they had the first "Abraham Lincoln's Day Sale." I suspect not long. I fear we've done much the same with Memorial Day (search).
It’s now more prone to remember the sales and barbecues, than the sweat and blood that made them possible. It's not a bad thing we relax this day. But it's a very bad thing if we forget why we can this day. Trust me, I'm not here to bring you down, but maybe make us all think. To think about people who sacrificed a lot so that we might live a little.
I'm not talking about the 150-or-so who died in this war or the 300 Americans who lost their lives in the last Iraq war. But of all the Americans in all the wars who gave so much for this country, sometimes, before there even was a country:
The better than 4,000 lost in the Revolutionary War.
The 364,000 killed in the Civil War.
The 116,000 in World War I.
The 405,000 in World War II.
The 54,000 in Korea and 58,000 in Vietnam.
They are gone now, but I hope not forgotten now.
I don't think any of them would mind our celebrating this day. But would it kill us to remember them this day?
I didn't serve this country -- a quirk of birth, I guess. I was too young to serve in Vietnam, but not too young to appreciate those who did.
You see, you don't have to wear a uniform to be eternally grateful to those who did and do. They are the reason I do what I do, and can say what I say. I might be able to talk about things that can make you richer. They are the reason our whole lives are enriching.
It saddens me to think we lose World War II veterans now at the rate of 2,000 a week. That's almost 300 a day. One of them, was my Dad.
Surely we can honor them by at least remembering them and the families they leave behind. Including those of the very latest casualties in Iraq. Families gathered now, I'm sure not exactly celebrating now.
Reason enough to think of them now. So to them, and their brave and departed loved ones, to those injured, to those gone: Thank you, for giving us this day. But more importantly for giving us this country.
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