Our Founding Fathers gathered the everyday citizen to form an army that against all odds beat the British Empire. The Revolutionary War relied upon citizen farmers and intellectuals to form a government and create an army. Ordinary men, and yes some women came forward from some of the most common and most elite backgrounds to form these armies.
Across the New Nation heroic efforts were performed. The most memorable being the deprivation at Valley Forge, with winters so brutal many men went without shoes in the snow. Can we ever repay them?
Few mention those lost to British conscription, or to the Barbary War and the War of 1812. Even fewer mention the vigorous debates in the years that followed concerning the issue of slavery and the Missouri Compromise. Brave men and cowards led us into the Civil War. Greed and altruism filled both sides, but the deprivation and courage of every soldier cannot be forgotten.
Need I remind you of the Spanish American War? The sinking of The Maine? A war famously depicted by Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill, but which few know the full story of men who endured cholera and horrid conditions.
World War I was suppose to be the war to end all wars. It wasn't. Men gave their lives and sanity in trench warfare that seem to last forever. Can you imagine living years in a mud pit with no cell phone or TV?
When we thought we were safe, our government proved to be asleep on the switch and Americans came forward to fight once more in WWII. Then came Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Need I mention 911which has led to Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan.
We, as a people asked our military men and women to step into the breach:
When liberty was threatened to fight the Revolutionary War,
When our sons where kidnapped in the Barbary Wars,
When our borders where violated in 1812,
When Mexico violated our border and we cried "Remember The Alamo!",
When Spain attempted to reclaim territory in the Spanish American War,
When WWI broke out,
When WWII broke out,
When Korean War erupted,
When Vietnam ripped the fabric of our society, still we asked,
To protect our allies in Desert Storm,
After 911, to unseat Saddam in Iraqi Freedom and fight terrorist in Afghanistan.
What will we ask of them tomorrow?
Military families give up everything, can you do that? Can you stand years separated from loved ones, missing holidays, birthdays and even birth of children. And we get pissed if our spouse misses an anniversary. how much more are they missing? They have given us their all.
Our government fails to give them equipment to help maintain their readiness and combat stance. Yet, we still ask so much and they bravely make do. How many generations of fighting men and women have tolerated our disdain and carelessness? How much longer will we accept the abuse of our most heroic men and women?
Memorial Day is a sacred day. As we enjoy our barbecues and pool parties we need to take a few moments. We need to bend our knees and give thanks to those who gave life and limb for our freedoms. Today, they still fight, today they still sacrifice.
Last week, I was in Physical Therapy and I was brought to tears seeing a young Marine next to me. Too polite to ask, where he was injured, it was obvious he was in Iraq or Afghanistan. From the injuries and burns, I assumed a road side bomb, also known as an IUD. As I did my mundane exercises the gentleman battled to regain control of his battered body. At one point he mentioned to the Physical Therapist an he felt an "annoyance" in his arm. A moment later, with tweezers, she picked a piece of shrapnel out of his wound in his arm that the Military Hospital missed.
What courage! What a Great American! We must not forget these brave heroes, please take a moment, not just today, but everyday to pause, remember and thank them for their service. Whenever you see the American Flag, know it is the fighting men and women who have sacrificed their all to preserve the freedoms it represents and thank them.
God Bless Our Military & The USA!