If you’re like most Americans, you’re likely spending this weekend celebrating the first full holiday weekend of the summer. Perhaps now that school is out, you’re taking a family vacation. Or maybe you’re staying at home, happy to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We hope you enjoy the holiday.
But hopefully, at some point you’ll take a minute to remember why we have this time off. The Memorial Day weekend may be a time to get summer started, but the holiday was bought and paid for with the lives of those who died in the service of our country.
Memorial Day at its heart is about paying tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation’s defense over the past 200 plus years, from Lexington and Gettsyburg to Iwo Jima and Normandy, from the frozen ridges of Korea to the steamy jungles of Vietnam, the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts if Iraq.
This is no small number, mind you. More than 2.5 million Americans have died or been wounded as a result of combat in those wars and others.
Yet it is sometimes lamented in our day and time that — in this day of an all-volunteer military — those who fight our wars are increasingly removed from most of the population. That means fewer of us can appreciate what it means to lose a son, or daughter, or brother, or father, or mother. It also can mean that we as a country have “less skin in the game,” making us a nation much more willing to go to war than we ought to be.
That’s not true in our community. Fort Stewart and the large number of military families we have in our midst, both active and retired, are a daily reminder of the dangers faced and courage shown by U.S. troops.
The trees that line Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk represent our sons, daughters, friends neighbors. They walked among us and died protecting us and our way of life.
Their sacrifices, and those of their comrades in arms, will not be in vain so long as they are remembered — and so long as we understand that the freedoms we enjoy come at a great cost.
Take a second to remember that this weekend.