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Remembering what Memorial Day is really all about

By Dian Vujovich

Growing up, I remember Memorial Day with fondness and respect. Back then nearly every home on my block displayed the family’s American flag, Vets handed out poppies in front of the local grocer and folks from all walks of life lined the sidewalks along Southview Blvd to watch the Memorial Day parade. I liked to watch it at the corner of 6th and Southview right across the street from the Dairy Queen.

We all knew at least one person in that parade whether it was the neighbor kid riding his bike in it or one of the Vets marching in not-so-perfect step with others from his or her local VFW. None were wheelchair bound and I don’t recall seeing any with arms or legs missing. Everyone would have noticed that and more than likely sighed an “Oh my “under their breath if that were the case. But nope, instead all those Vets just looked old.

Today that’s all changed. Yesterday’s old looks young—or middle-aged– to me and more Vets than ever are coming home from war with missing limbs yet still carrying on. And ever since Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, those once celebrated single-day national holidays, like Memorial Day, have lost a lot of their meaning with three-day shopping sprees and the celebration of the unofficial beginning of summer taking precedence.

I write about this because I miss those old Memorial Days. They were the days when most people took the time to remember the really important stuff. Like the fact that there is/was/ and forever will be huge costs for the American way life we are all fortunate enough to enjoy: Wars, combat and loss of lives.

To keep you remembering and to help you honor this Memorial Day holiday, consider the following numbers (Source: Wikipedia; United States military causalities of war).

• 2,489,335 . The number of U.S. military men and women who have died or were wounded in wars or deployments beginning with the American Revolutionary War, it began in 1775, to the present War on Terror (includes the Afghanistan and Iraq War).

•1,343,812. The total number of military deaths over that same time period.

• 625,000. Number of military deaths during the American Civil War, the war with the most deaths.

•4,196. The fewest military deaths occurred during the Philippine-American War, 1899-1914.

•291,557. The highest number of combat deaths happened during World War ll. This war was the second deadliest: 405,399 men and women lost their lives during its four-year history, 1941-1945.

And from another source, the U.S. Central Command reports that the number of causalities in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom now totals 6013.

On Memorial Day, at 3 p.m. , consider taking a few minutes to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance to honor those in our military deployed in current wars or in past ones. Without their service the U.S. wouldn’t be the country that it is today.

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