It has often been said we are the land of the free because we are the land of the brave. There are no words to express my gratitude for the sacrifice of the men who’ve served past and present.
Sometimes there is confusion between the significance of Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Though they both honor veterans, each has unique focus. Memorial Day is about honoring the memory of those who have fallen. This is about the men and women who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice so you and I, along with people in other countries, can have the opportunity to live in freedom.
Veteran’s Day is about honoring Veteran’s those who have served in the past and those who are currently serving. They make sacrifices too. Sacrifices in time with their families. Sacrifices in income. Sacrifices in how they use their time.
Even in the twenty-first century, there are still people living under represive regimes. According to the 2014 Human Rights Risk Atlas and Database, out of 197 countries evaluated, 20 had extreme human rights risks, and the number is rising. Currently there are 34 listed. Countries where women aren’t allowed to drive or show their faces. Countries with ethnic cleansing and horrific sexual violence toward people looked upon as sub-human. Countries where people are imprisoned for daring to propose an idea different than the party line. Countries where people are murdered because their conscience has led them to a faith different than those in the majority. I give thanks everyday we are not one of those countries. One of the reasons we’re not is because of the sacrifice of those in our armed forces.
Just to give some idea of the sheer numbers of men and women that have given their lives, I’ll list out some of the modern U.S. wars with their death tolls. *These numbers come from necrometrics.com and statista.com.
|World War I||1917-18 (American Involvement)||116.516|
|World War II||1941-1945 (American Involvement)||405,399|
|Vietnam War||1961-1973 (American Involvement)||58,177|
There’s nothing wrong with having a fantastic barbeque or going to the beach on Memorial Day. I’ve done it and still remembered the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers. But sometimes, when I think about the sacrifice of those who’ve given everything, it makes my heart long to do something more. Anything to show my gratitude. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with in the past:
Visit a war memorial and look up the families of those listed and write thank you notes
Do service for a war widow and their family. Do her yard for her. Clean her house. Give her money to take her family out to eat, so she doesn’t have to cook.
“Adopt” a family. If there’s an widow/orphaned family in your area, be a psuedo parent for them. Get to know them. Have them over. Take them to amusement parks or the zoo. Find out their interests and do those things.