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The Debt That Can Never Be Repaid

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat the soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping-ground their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round, the bivouac of the dead.
“Bivouac Of The Dead,” by Theodore O'Hara

 

By Jim Brescia

If one looks at the United States of America’s war casualties from the Revolutionary War up to our current conflicts, there have been more than 1,130,000 military service deaths. That is a staggering number but it pales in light of the millions of Americans who, because of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, have been able to live in freedom and enjoy the many liberties that this wonderful—although not without its flaws—country provides.

In May of 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, Decoration Day was established. It was designated as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of war dead. At the time, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan said, “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971 Memorial Day was declared a national holiday. In December 2000 the U. S. Congress passed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act.” The act and the attendant commission was established to encourage all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation.

I wonder what those who sacrificed their life would say about the way we are treating their precious legacy? Yes, there are noble, generous, compassionate, inclusive behaviors all the time but there are the petty, selfish, prejudicial, cruel acts much too often. Given the choice, (they were not) would they sacrifice their life to defend our right to be cruel and selfish?

There are two national holidays annually that recognize those who serve and have served our country; Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Veterans Day is to honor the “All who gave some.” Memorial Day is to honor the “Some who gave all.”

When all of the political posturing, philosophical debating, self-serving blabbering and downright silly behavior is over, our country calls upon our military to fight on its behalf and preserve our precious freedom. The average age of those killed in Vietnam was 22. Who would you never have met; who would not have been born; what would not have been accomplished if you had your life taken from you at 22 years of age?

Let us not forget that our national decisions create debts that are paid by others, not those making the decisions. The 350 million Americans living in this country owe a debt to the 23 million living Veterans and the 1,130,000 members of the military who died in service of our Country. So, respect our military. Give them your full support during and after their service. Pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day; reflect upon the debt that we can never repay and thank those to whom it is owed.

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