PEOPLE MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
By Byron McNutt
Memorial Day is a time to honor those men and women who fought bravely and made the greatest sacrifice one can make to defend liberty - their lives.
Too often, we take for granted the ideals for which our ancestors fought. It may be easy to forget because only 6 percent of Americans younger than 65 have served in uniform.
We must constantly remind ourselves that freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be an inconvenience for us to take a few minutes on Monday to honor those veterans.
In all, more than 1.2 million Americans have died in wars since our country was founded. Millions more were injured. They were the sons and daughters, grand-children, cousins, nieces, nephews and parents of tens of millions of people.
Who will remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion to the cause of justice, freedom and democracy if not those who live under the protection of these great principles?
While Memorial Day is for veterans of all wars, we are paying special tribute to the men and women, mostly in their 80s and 90s, who served in World War II more than 70 years ago.
In short order, the special tributes will fall to veterans of the Korean War and to the Viet Nam War. As these noble warriors march quietly into eternity, they don’t ask for your praises, they only ask to be remembered.
World War II was about more than the maps, dates and places taught in schools today:
- It was about the 17-year-old boys nearly freezing to death in a foxhole and awakening to hear the rumble of tanks as a massive German offensive began.
- It was about praying that your plane, perforated by enemy bullets and shrapnel, could somehow limp across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to safety.
- It was about overcoming gut-wrenching fear to charge a machine-gun bunker after watching its fanatical defenders massacre your comrades.
- And it was about searching among the dead for your closest friend and wondering “Why him and not me?”
They were ordinary men and women, many of them just children, thrust into extraordinary circumstances. They bore the burden of defending freedom and our way of life, not just for us but also for most of the world.
They did it for their country, they did it for their ideals, and they did it for their buddy in the next foxhole. And thank God for us they did it so well.
Today, we have the best-trained, best-equipped fighting forces in the world. The free world looks to America to police the world and protect them from evil forces.
As we’ve learned the last 15 years, massive power alone will not win the war. It still takes men and women willing to put their lives in danger. They deserve our unwavering support and gratitude.