Monday, May 25, 2009

For the Fallen... but not Forgotten.

The saddest song ever...

I thought I would take time from my normal writing to remember the men and women who fought and fell in the defense or ideals of our country. Yes, I live in Canada now, but I will always be an American. I am a wartime veteran (Desert Storm,) as were many of the men in my family of previous generations - World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. My son enlisted as a Marine during the outbreak of the war in Afghanistan. Our family was fortunate - though some were wounded, we lost no one. This is for those who lost what is most precious to them. I thank you and salute you.

Time tends to forget. History becomes dusty and a tool for academics. But there was a time when it was lived, and though it's nearly 100 years past, we need to remember those from the First World War. They fought the most brutal of modern wars.

World War I cemetery in Belgium.

Trench warfare, where most often being shot was the
 least of your problems.

Thousands died in battles for a few kilometers of land, only to have to fight to retake it again. Trench warfare was used for the last time as a primary method of combat. New ways of fighting would soon take over, including tanks, planes, heavy machine guns, and the dreaded chemical attacks. Disease and muddy trenches made life miserable for  someone already fighting to keep his country and himself alive for one more day. By the time the United States entered the war, it was a bloody stalemate, but along with our allies we  finally began breaking through. Despite this, may soldiers fought and gave their lives to return stability and freedom to Europe, though some would never come home again.

World War II. Much has been written and said about this war. It was the first totally global war, and hopefully the last. From the Pacific Rim to Europe, Americans fought inch by bloody inch to regain freedom from oppression. It was also the first time we were attacked on our own soil by a country that did not border us.

Both of he above pictures were taken at Omaha. Over 2200 men lost their lives on that beach alone in a single morning. This didn't include the casualties on Sword, Gold, Juno, and Utah beaches. All those who landed that morning had a single goal. For that I and we are eternally grateful.

There was a war that has nearly been forgotten - Korea. While it didn't result in a totally free Korea, those in the southern half are living a life in which they can prosper. Maybe someday it'll extend to the north.

Images for Korea were hard to find, but I think the grieving soldier says it all. These men struggled every bit as hard as those before them. My gratitude.

Not every war was popular, but that doesn't mean those who fought and died in them deserve any less respect. Most of my uncles fought in the following war... Vietnam. It was unpopular, difficult, and when I studied it for the first time, I found myself embarrassed. Not by the war - these men had little choice - but by the way their own countrymen treated them. My friends, you will NEVER receive that treatment from me. This also marked the first time that all races fought side by side.

The impromptu cemetery photo was taken in Chu Lai. More than 58,000 men and women lost their lives in this war, and I for one, will never forget their sacrifice.

In the past 19 years we have been involved, in one facet or another, in a war in the Middle East. Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Volunteer soldiers fighting a major war for the first time in over 100 years. I don't care about the politics - save that for another day on someone else's blog. I just want to pay my respects to those who have fallen.

The soldier above is alive, but struggling with PTSD. I found that out while reading about the image. My prayers are out to him.

Throughout the country there are people who look at their folded flag in its glass case and remember. The smiles, the laughs, the person that was. The person that gave everything. They will shed a tear today. Toast your beer to them. I'm sure they would to you.

I extend my thanks to my fellow brothers in arms to all Allied nations throughout the years - especially the British and Canadians. They were thoroughly reliable friends and gave just as much.

Regardless of your politics, for a moment - just a moment - take a breath and say a small prayer to those who gave of themselves so that you may have what you have. Even if you don't believe in God, take that time to say a simple word.


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