The Rational Middle has posted on Memorial Day, on its history, its place in American culture, and on its use as a political tool by entities various and sundry. Today, the post is short and bitter:
We remember the 6,717 killed, to date, in relation to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We remember the 106 killed in relation to (mostly) humanitarian interventions between 1991 and 2001.
We remember the 294 killed in the First Gulf War.
We remember the 147 killed during various incursions into Latin America between 1958 and 1989.
We remember the 321 killed during more than three decades of involvement in the Middle East between the late 1950’s and 1990.
We remember the 58,209 killed in the conflict in Southeast Asia between 1955 and 1975.
We remember the 249 killed during and relating to actions of the Cold War.
We remember the 36,516 killed during the Korean War.
We remember the 405,399 killed during World War II.
We remember the 117,288 killed during World War I and the Russian Revolution.
And finally, we remember the nearly 40,000 killed fighting the British for independence, the nearly 500 killed fighting for control of our hemisphere, the more than 6,000 killed fighting the Spanish for recognition as a world power, the nearly 3,000 killed fighting Native Americans for land, the more than 13,000 killed fighting Mexico for land, and at least three quarters of a million killed fighting so that this democracy shall not perish from the Earth.
A look at the full numbers reveals at least 1.5 million killed serving their country, and at least 1.2 million wounded serving their country. Today, our’s is not to evaluate the reasons, motives, or results involved in this butcher’s bill. It is simply to acknowledge the terrible cost, and to try and find simple, common ways to celebrate the nobility inherent in the sacrifice…and the hope that such sacrifice can be restricted forever to the pages of history.