This is our first Memorial Day without Bonnie. Fifty days ago, she made her transition from Earth to Heaven and into the arms of our Lord Jesus. Her mother was killed in an automobile accident on Memorial Day. It was caused by a person driving under the influence and Memorial Day was both special to her because of her love for America, her gratitude for all who served and died, and difficult because it was the anniversary of her mother’s departure from earth. This will be a most difficult day but a day of remembrance for me and the family.
As a Vietnam Veteran, an American, a patriot, a lover of freedom, and a Christian I never want to miss an opportunity to express my deep gratitude for those men and women who paid the ultimate price for Freedom. Memorial Day is the day we have set aside to honor those who paid that price in a time of war. They are deserving of much more than a few words of platitude and their memories must never be tarnished by the rewriters of history and those seeking to dismantle our republic.
I have never contended or argued that all war is honorable or even necessary but when our nation is threatened our patriots have stepped forward. That is one of the things that has kept America the Free Constitutional Republic she is and has been. The weakening of our foundational fabric endangers that through revisionism of history and the anti-American rhetoric bandied about in today’s politics, media, and academia. We must never forget and never cease to be grateful for the sacrifices made in the interest of freedom.
I saw a list of numbers of the deaths that were aired on a PBS broadcast some time ago. The numbers may not be 100% accurate but reflect the many who have sacrificed. In honoring their memories, we need to express our gratitude to the families of the fallen because their pain is also noteworthy. I can only imagine the pain of losing a loved one in war. I know some of the pain that my mother endured during my time in Vietnam. The uncertainty, lack of information, and fear that her son would not come home were deeply traumatic. I fully believe that her prayers for me kept me alive.
The list of War Time U.S. Military Deaths are as follows:
Revolutionary War 4.435
War of 1812 2,260
Indian Wars 1,000
Mexican War 13,283
Civil War 498,332 (Another estimate was 618,000)
Spanish-American War 2,446
World War I 116,516
World War II 405,399
Korean War 54,246 (Another estimate was 36,574)
Vietnam War 90,220 (Another estimate was 58,220)
Persian Gulf War 1,565
Global War on Terror 6,852
Clearly, some of those numbers are fluid and changing. Vietnam and other war numbers have changed over the years as new information and discoveries have occurred. The wartime deaths amount to about 1.2 million American service personnel. My gratitude is overflowing and my pride in calling myself an American has never been greater.
During World War II, about 12% of the total U.S. population was a part of the armed forces. Today we have approximately 1.4 million Americans on active duty and another 860,000 in various reserves. That is approximately 2.1 million out of the 331 million. That means that rather than have 12% as in WWII we have less than 1% serving today. Technology and other changes have resulted in that statistic. However, I am convinced that were we to enter another global conflict the numbers of Americans volunteering would escalate dramatically.
Each year on the final Monday of May we celebrate Memorial Day. Originally the title was Decoration Day. The American flag is supposed to be flown at half-mast until noon, and then raised to full mast until sunset on Memorial Day. The tradition of wearing red poppies originated in John McCrae’s 1915 poem in Flanders Fields. A relatively unknown tradition was to eat a picnic lunch on the grounds of a cemetery to honor the fallen heroes. The placing of American flags on graves has long been a tradition and now under fire by those who seek to obliterate our traditional honoring of the fallen.
“In Flanders Fields”
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Few know that there is supposed to be a national moment of remembrance at 3 P.M. local time to honor the memories of the heroes of our wars. The time-honored tradition where thousands of Americans visit Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
In a time when so little of our true history is known, I urge everyone to gather their family around you and remind them of the greatness of America and the value of our freedoms. If you have a loved one or an ancestor who died in one of our wars honor their memory and instill in the hearts of the young, they are free because others sacrificed all to ensure their liberty. Take a moment and thank God for His goodness and mercy. Take a moment and say, Thank You to those who gave all. Many of us gave something, but the ones we honor today gave everything. They gave so that we could be Free!
Memorial Day to me is more than a holiday or a long weekend, it is a reminder of the power of love! Love for family, love for country, love for freedom, and love for God. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The heroes who paid all did not know me, but they died for me and you. They died for the Love of Freedom, Family, and Country. Dare we not honor their memory and prevent any government official from tarnishing that tradition and obligation to REMEMBER?
God bless you and God bless America! HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY and THANK GOD WE ARE FREE!