Funseekers, sunseekers, ladies and gents.. it's Memorial Day again! Good times... And an ideal time to teach your kids that all sweet freedoms, the Bill of Rights and abundant new reforms you enjoy every day in your Homeland, did not grow on some Android or Apple App Tree.
Memorial Day is not National Beer and Bratwurst Day.
It's an earnest day about serious work done by serious men and women for you, the blessed citizens of a country and a way of life worth fighting for.
Your freedom to work and play where you want, wear and read what you want, speak your mind with vigor, vote for your heartfelt candidate, gather in the town hall and howl at your mayor, or gather funds for a cause you deeply believe in -- did not come randomly like Spring rain.
Your freedom was not won cheaply, but at considerable cost -- the blood and toil of countless thousands of men and women who fought hard for, and often died in the mud for, a way of life that's incessantly under fire by our enemies at home and overseas. It's important for the young ones to remember -- the kids of Gen's Y and Z who grew up with noses glued to cell phones -- there's no Quick App for freedom, guys.
Those "National Freedom Downloads" cost your Homeland legions of young lives who gave it all. And for so many years I've wondered just how many American soldiers actually died in combat. Never did the math until now. It's pretty sobering when you think of all the spouses, children, parents and friends whose hearts were torn when that government car rolled slowly up a driveway -- so many times for so many foreign wars.
The U.S. Defense Department calculates that more than 1.1 million Americans died in wars around the world since 1776. No other nation in the history of this planet -- no other ever sacrificed so many of its youth to fight for freedom from oppression for its global friends. Now that IS worth remembering, honoring and teaching to our children. In fairness, our European allies need to do the same, to honor what we gave them, time and time again. Griping is cheap and plentiful, grateful hearts are rare.
Fellow Americans, and friends of America whose freedom was saved by U.S. blood, here are the universally accepted stats for how many American soldiers died in combat since the founding of our nation (and these are just the major wars):
- Revolutionary War -- 25,000
- War of 1812 -- 15,000
- Civil War (Both sides) -- 750,000
- World War I -- 116,500
- World War II -- 465,400
- Korean War -- 36,500
- Vietnam War -- 58,200
- Ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan -- 2,200
- In Iraq -- 4490
What's more, there were a myriad smaller battles and wars such as those in Mexico, the Philippines, shameful conflicts with our own indigenous people, and the current global war on terror. And we cannot disregard the hundreds of thousands more who died -- enemy combatants, innocent civilians, the tragic "collateral damage" that accrues with every war in history. So look hard at these numbers, folks. Literally, read 'em and weep. College kids, high schoolers, put your cell phones down a sec'... Remember, reflect, and please try to install gratitude among that swirling chorus of emojis and e-motions in your busy brains.
Now a bit about beginnings. Here's an excerpt from the e-zine "LiveScience" about the origins of Memorial Day. Some partisan historians dispute nuances, as Libbers vs. Neo-Cons have been prattling on for centuries, but most folks agree this is the gist.
And once again, history proves that often the best men for a job are, yes... women.
Memorial Day's date has changed over the years, but the first actual holiday was planned for April 26, 1866, in the wake of the American Civil War. In January 1866, the Ladies' Memorial Association in Columbus, GA, passed a motion... to designate a day to throw flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers... wrote Richard Gardiner, an associate professor of history education at Columbus State University in Georgia, and co-author of "Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday" (2014).
"However, the ladies didn't want this to be an isolated event, so Mary Ann Williams, the group's secretary, wrote a letter and sent it to newspapers all across the USA. You'll find that letter in dozens of newspapers," Gardiner said. "It was republished everywhere in the country." In the letter, the ladies asked people to honor all the fallen soldiers on April 26 — the day the bulk of Confederate soldiers surrendered in North Carolina in 1865.
"That's what many people in the South considered to be the end of the war," Gardiner said. Even though Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, "there were still 90,000 soldiers ready to fight. And until those 90,000 surrendered on April 26, the war was effectively still going on. But the date initially was not printed correctly in every newspaper, which led Columbus, Mississippi, to celebrate the holiday one day earlier, on April 25. Because of this simple mix-up, Columbus, MS, is often mistakenly credited as the birthplace of Memorial Day, Gardiner explained."
History lesson aside, this holiday is more than an excuse for lakeside keggers, boating galas, prancing around in hot swimwear and roasting s'mores over moonlit firepits. I'll always cherish childhood memories like that -- they were wonderful -- but the numbers of Realpolitik keep filtering back into the mid-brain. Relentlessly.
Sincerest thanks to all our loyal friends among the alliance of freedom, who over the last two centuries (plus) stood side-by-side with Americans, and bled into the dirt to defend the ways and means of liberty -- especially the solid men and women of the UK, Australia, Canada -- and the French Resistance during WWII.
And so it goes; they came, they gave it all and now we all just Keep on Rockin' in the Free World !
God Bless Our Homeland and Protect the Original Brilliant Vision of 1776. Long may it all endure -- strong, resilient and ready ...
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY, AMERICA !