Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery outside St. Louis, Mo.
Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have given their lives in the service of the country. I wrote about Memorial Day last year on a larger scale – MEMORIAL DAY 2016 – noting the loss of meaning and recognition for the holiday in this time when the responsibility that once attended liberty seems to be among the unknown.
Today, like last year and the years before that throughout this still young century, wars continue to send members of our all-volunteer forces into danger. Continue reading
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Saint Louis, Mo.
On this Memorial Day weekend 2016, a time when we honor those who sacrificed so that we might run free, we take note that Memorial Day observations are in decline, with fewer than 5 per cent of Americans typically attending a parade or visiting grave sites. There may be many reasons for this including the dying off of The Greatest Generation, the men who fought in World War II, and whose families bore the burden of their dedication. 1800 WWII vets are dying every day.
But a corollary may be the make-up of our current, all-volunteer force, which consists of less than 0.5 percent of the overall American population, compared with more than 12 percent who served during World War II.
Just 16 years ago a Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of Americans knew exactly what Memorial Day was about. Little over a decade later a 2011 survey found that 80 per cent of Americans confessed to having “little” or only “some” knowledge of the military holiday first known as Decoration Day. When we further make note that Americans have increasingly lost confidence in any of the three branches of the government, perhaps it is time to ask, is this the America for which those many, many thousands gave their lives to protect and preserve? Continue reading
On this Memorial Day 2011 two wars draw our young service men and women into harms way, even as we remember those who have fallen in all our previous conflicts. Today, it is an all-volunteer force which fights on our behalf in Iraq and Afghanistan, all but separated from the vast majority of Americans in whose name they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. A generation ago it was a drafted army that connected Americans of all socio-economic strata, which ultimately caused the country to come to political terms with its aims in Vietnam. I am the son of two World War II veterans, one from Poland, the other from America. In their time there was no separation of purpose, nor a coming to political terms with the conflict before them. How unified was the nation, how willing America’s sons were to march into battle, and why, is captured movingly in the following letter my father wrote to his mother as he shipped out to the battlefields of Europe 67 years ago. Continue reading