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National Remembrance at 3PM

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Waynesboro Riverview Cemetary photo 140526WaynesboroRiverview_zpsd761f5a9.jpgA pet peeve: today is not Veterans Day. There is no equivalence. This day is for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice while in the military service. Those who served have their day. You want equivalence? Today should be extended to any who died in service to our nation.

Today I ask all Virginians to take a moment and reflect on the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to our country and died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a veteran of the United States Army, I have had the privilege to serve alongside some of the very finest men and women in this country who so bravely risk their lives defending our freedom. To those who died while serving our nation, I salute you and your families on this day of remembrance. We are all eternally grateful for your service and sacrifice.

Take care, Ralph Northam, Virginia Lieutenant Governor

I have come to personally believe that the phrase “thank-you for your service” has become a vacuous salutation. I am suspect of most politicians who blather on about veterans. The situation in the Veterans Administration justifies that cynicism. That is another story that is hardly new but I want to focus on actual heroes (a word woefully devalued by Ronald Reagan). I do know Ralph Northam and have no doubt in his sincerity.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato

Since the establishment of Memorial Day (as Decoration Day), we’ve blurred the line that defines military service for political and economic purposes. So I personally extend my remembrance to the police and fire personnel who have lost their lives in our service. And to the “contractors” whose military positions were “civilianized” so that politicians could claim reductions in force and retired military could suck at the teat of government pretending to deliver service more efficiently than the military.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed; those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” – Dwight David Eisenhower

I flew back from Europe last fall with some of those contactors who were serving in desolate Hindu Kush outposts that were closing for winter (an operational, maybe strategic error, but again another story). Why not honor their dead? And all the other Americans who died for their country serving in any capacity on our behalf? What about those military personnel and others who died at the hands of Timothy McVeigh? I remember Captain Randy Guzman USMC as an enthusiastic young college student. He served in the First Gulf War only to return and die at the hands of an “American Patriot.”

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who die. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – George S. Patton

And death ought to have been in the line of duty, but that is another grey area. You see, it is so simple to just classify all service the same. Do you really think that death at ones’ own hands, whether intentionally or not, is equivalent to death at the hands of the enemy? Maybe. The catalyst for suicide is difficult to nail down. Supposedly half of the veterans of Viet Nam suffer from PTSD; many complain of alienation, rage and guilt – some are suicidal. What about those who take their own lives years after leaving the service?  

And all service is not the same; thus differences in discharge classification. Virginia does not issue those fancy Veterans ID cards to those discharged dishonorably…but there are various degrees of service between fully honorable and dishonorable. In death, however, there is no degree of difference.

“Older men declare war. But it is youth who will fight and die.” – Herbert Hoover

As I said earlier, this day began being celebrated as Decoration Day. It originated after our Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died. It was later extended to all Americans who died while serving in the military. It is instructive to see just how many adventures old men (and women) have sent our youth to fight (also note the wars against Native Americans):

  • American Revolution – killed in combat 8,000; total dead 25,000; total US dead and wounded 50,000
  • Northwest Indian War – casualties 1881
  • Quasi War – 556 killed and wounded
  • First War with the Barbary Pirates – 138 (Other actions against the pirates – 36)
  • The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair – 3 dead, 21 killed and wounded
  • War of 1812 – total US dead and wounded 20,000
  • Marquesas Expedition – 7 killed and wounded
  • Second Barbary War – 148 killed or wounded
  • First Seminole War – 83 killed or wounded
  • First Sumatra Expedition – 13 killed or wounded
  • The Blackhawk War – 390 killed or wounded
  • Second Seminole War – 328 killed
  • The Mexican War – 1733 combat related killed; overall killed or wounded 17,435
  • The Cayuse War – 115 killed or wounded
  • Rogue River Wars – 489 killed or wounded
  • Yakima War – 126 killed or wounded
  • Third Seminole War – 53 killed or wounded
  • Coeur d’Alene War – 96 killed or wounded
  • Civil War: total – 214,938 combat deaths; about 800,000 total casualties
  • Dakota War of 1862 – 113 killed
  • Shimonoseki Straits – 5 killed
  • Snake Indian War – 30 killed
  • Indian Wars – 919 killed
  • Red Cloud’s War – 126 killed
  • Korea (Shinmiyangyo) – 3 killed
  • Modoc War – 56 killed
  • Great Sioux War – 314 killed
  • Nez Perce War – 134 killed
  • Bannock War – 12 killed
  • Ute War – 15 killed
  • Sheepeater Indian War – 1 killed
  • Samoan crisis – 62 wounded
  • Ghost Dance War – 99 killed or wounded
  • Sugar Point Pillager Band of Chippewa Indians – 23 killed or wounded
  • Spanish-American War – 4068 killed or wounded
  • Philippine-American War – 7126 killed or wounded
  • Boxer Rebellion – 335 killed or wounded
  • Santo Domingo Affair – 3 killed or wounded
  • United States occupation of Nicaragua – 449 killed or wounded
  • Mexican Revolution – 500 killed or wounded
  • Occupation of Haiti – 184 killed or wounded
  • World War I – 320,518 killed or wounded
  • North Russia Campaign – 0 killed or wounded
  • American Expeditionary Force Siberia – 380 killed or wounded
  • China – 83 killed or wounded
  • World War II – 1,076,245 killed or wounded
  • Greek Civil War – 6 killed or wounded
  • Chinese Civil War – 215 killed or wounded
  • Berlin Blockade – 0 killed or wounded
  • Korean War – 33,686 killed; 128,650 killed or wounded
  • U.S.S.R. Cold War – 44 killed or wounded
  • China Cold War – 16 killed or wounded
  • Vietnam War – 211,454 killed or wounded
  • 1958 Lebanon crisis – 7 killed or wounded
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion – 4 killed or wounded
  • Dominican Republic – 330 killed or wounded
  • USS Liberty incident – 34 killed; 174 wounded
  • Iran – 12 killed or wounded
  • El Salvador Civil War – 22 combat dead
  • Beirut deployment – 256 dead
  • Persian Gulf escorts – 39 killed
  • Invasion of Grenada – 18 killed
  • 1986 Bombing of Libya -2 killed
  • Invasion of Panama – 23 killed
  • Gulf War – 149 killed
  • Operation Provide Comfort – 1 dead
  • Somalia – 29 dead
  • Haiti – 1 dead
  • Colombia – 0 killed
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina – 7 dead
  • NATO bombing of Yugoslavia 1 dead
  • Afghanistan War – 1,742 combat dead; 18,675 killed or wounded
  • Iraq War – 3,527 killed in combat; 32,222 killed or wounded
  • War on Terror: Afghanistan and Iraq Wars total – 5,281 combat dead; 50,897 killed or wounded
  • Total all wars – 848,162 combat dead; 2,717,991 killed or wounded

So at 3PM, I’ll be honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. All of them. Please join me.

Note: I have borrowed here from Tony Macrini’s show last Friday. I disagree with him from time to time but he is one of the few on talk radio who is genuine. I regret that Governor McAuliffe has chosen to avoid any discussion with him on his WNIS morning show. Macrini, a Viet Nam veteran and fellow Marine may be acerbic, but he is always fair.

“For all those who feign they love the military more than anything else, who go on and on about service, I find myself asking, “Why weren’t you in it?”” – Tony Macrini

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    I agree that the phrase, “Thank you for your service,” has become meaningless due to overuse. The other platitudes of praise used by people “thanking” our now-professional military are equally too easy to trip off the tongues of those who never served, who know their children will never be put into harm’s way.

    When we were attacked on our own soil at Pearl Harbor, the whole nation was mobilized; the draft meant that everyone’s child could be called into service; Congress put itself on the record by declaring war. When we were attacked on our own soil on September 11, a volunteer military that was sufficient for peacetime was called again and again to serve tours of duty in combat. Congress gave the president carte blanche to fight without a formal declaration of war. President Bush asked one thing of the civilian population:  Go shopping. Then, the so-called “representatives”  of the people later acquiesced to a war that never should have happened in Iraq, and the same military personnel who were already fighting in Afghanistan were called upon to fight in Iraq.

    The question Americans  should ask is whether we have allowed our military to be the plaything of presidents and members of Congress who bluster and bumble round the world threatening warfare, regardless of our actual national interest. Every time President Obama avoids getting embroiled in some new adventure that would require our war-exausted military to fight yet again, all he gets for his caution is criticism that he is too weak.

    Memorial Day honors all those who have given their lives for this nation. We should be very sure that the cause is just and necessary before we add to those numbers. It is on Veteran’s Day that we honor all who have served the nation.