I came of age during the Vietnam war.
Each day the evening news concluded with the number of service men and women killed in combat that day and the total number who had died during the war. It was a slow drumbeat of anguish and heartbreak. Years later, as our children were growing up, our family took a trip to Washington DC. We visited all the museums and historic sites we could manage in the several days we were there. Smithsonian Museum. Washington Monument. Lincoln Memorial. And, yes, the Vietnam Memorial. I knew some of the names etched in that granite wall. As I looked at those names, I am not sure my children understood the tears in my eyes and my inability to speak.
Since 1861, nearly 2,000,000 service men and women have been killed or lost their lives in the wars our country has fought.
2,000,000 sons and daughters.
2,000,000 brothers and sisters.
2,000,000 fathers and mothers.
Today we remember their sacrifice.
And the heartbreak of their families.
And the devastating human cost of war.
But let our remembering this day be more than nostalgia and more than misplaced glorification. Instead may it be a solemn reminder that if our country is to remain strong it requires more than just their service and their sacrifice. It also requires you and I to be thoughtful and active citizens and to serve our communities and our country in whatever ways we are able. And, it requires you and I to hold tight to the dream of liberty and justice meant not just for some, but for all.