Over the past century, more than 35 million men and women answered the call to arms in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and countless unnamed military engagements. More than half a million of them never came home. Some died in battle, others in captivity; all died too soon.
Recent terrorist attacks have offered fresh reminders of the human reality of war: ordinary men and women leaving homes and families and all they know to risk their lives for an ideal of honor, or duty, or just to protect the soldier next to them. People of patriotism and goodwill may debate the merits of any given war, police action, or humanitarian mission. But there should be no debate about our debt to the hundreds of thousands of our citizens who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives heeding the nation’s call to service.
Memorial Day is more than the start of summer. It is a chance to pause and remember the sacrifices – remember the gallantry and bravery – remember the fallen.