25 May, 2009

Our Nation's War Dead

How Distant the Graves
American Cemetery, Florence, Italy
Photo: Casey Klahn

Remembering our nation's fallen on Memorial Day.

When my father told a war story from his World War II experiences, he would sometimes end it with, "that guy got kill't."

Today, less than 1 % of our American population serve in the military,
and only about 12% have once worn the uniform. Which makes it somewhat difficult for us to arouse memories of our nation's war dead. Families who have lost loved ones remember, usually in silence.

Be it in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, our present conflict or some unheralded action in freedom's cause, young Americans have given their lives for us. Often, they were only seventeen, eighteen, nineteen or a young twenty-something years of age when they did so.

No better words have been written than in this essay from a third grader:
As the flowers rest on the decorated graves and the sunlight shines on the beautiful sailboats, Uncle Sam whispers in my ear about how we should care for the soldiers and remember the ones that have died.
Swimming pools open, BBQs fry.
Today is the day to think of what they have done for us.
There are blurs of red, white and blue marching down the street and flags are lowered at half-mast.
But we should always remember and never forget what set us free, from this very day on.
Poem: © 2001 Ali M., 3rd Grader, Academy Elementary School, Madison, Connecticut.

Over 42 million men and women have served our nation in wartime. We remember them, and also our peacetime veterans, on Veteran's Day. About 1.2 million have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we decorate their graves on this Memorial Day.

My Illustration for the Tenth Mountain Division Memorial in Denver, CO.

A remembrance of the costs of the war in Italy. Portal.

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