This Isn’t Veterans Day

At church yesterday all those who have served in America’s military forces were asked to stand and be applauded.

This morning I caught a few minutes of a conservative talk radio show.  Listeners were encouraged to call in and thank those currently enlisted in the military.

But this isn’t Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is red, white and blue; patriotism is in the air, flags fly in front yards, parades packed with men and women in uniform make their way down Main Streets from coast to coast.  It’s a day set aside to thank military personal for their service. The day is celebratory. 

But today is Memorial Day.  It seems to me that on this day there should be no parades, no marching bands or celebrations.  Today seems best observed with tears.

Today we recognize those sacrificed at the alter of nation and physical freedom at the order of a president. On this day the sweetness of every victory is tempered by the sting of their deaths.  War is no longer abstract to us, no longer a political strategy or a chapter in a history book.  It’s costly and painfully real for all who remember.

Today is about counting the price charged to a nation at war.  And mourning it:


4,435 dead

WAR OF 1812 (1812-1815)

2,260 dead

MEXICAN WAR (1846-1848)

13,283 dead

CIVIL WAR (1861-1865)

364,511 dead


2,456 dead



WORLD WAR 1 (1917-1918)

116,516 dead

WORLD WAR 2 (1941-1946)

405,399 dead

KOREAN WAR (1950-1953)

54,246 dead


58,209 dead

PERSIAN GULF WAR (1990-1991)

382 dead

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (Afghanistan/Pakistan, 2001-Present)

606 dead

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (Philippines, 2001-Present)

15 dead

OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (aka Gulf War 2, 2003-Present)

4,281 dead (as of May 1, 2009)

Total U.S. military casualties from America’s major conflicts:

849,898 dead

Comments for this post have been disabled.  The only response necessary today is remembering.