This column runs in newspapers that predominantly serve readers in Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Livingston, and Erie counties. The total population of those counties approaches 1.4 million people.
Suppose you went on vacation and came back only to find all of those counties as ghost towns. Every home, every apartment, vacant…no one anywhere in places like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Lockport, Batavia, Geneseo, and Medina. Communities large and small, empty, silent, forlorn.
That apocalyptic vision should give you a feel for the scale of sacrifice that has led to the observation of Memorial Day.
Since the start of the Revolutionary War, Americans whose numbers are identical to the population of this region paid the ultimate price for our nation’s goals, the American Way and the pursuit and retention of freedom.
Think of what those warriors accomplished for the benefit of their countrymen and generations of Americans whom they would never meet:
America, the greatest and freest nation ever conceived, would never have existed had men not fought to the death against British tyranny.
She would never have remained intact, nor would 3.5 million blacks have been freed from slavery, had the North not found it morally necessary to preserve our nation and better the human existence.
The whole modern world would have been torn asunder and many millions more innocent lives taken by evil had we not entered the two World Wars which cost over a half-million American lives.
Communism would have gained immeasurable might and influence had we not waged a proxy war against its principle powers – China and Russia – in the Koreas.
58,000 perished while having the honor, patriotism and allegiance to stick with America -- regardless of our nation’s nasty sociopolitical divide -- during the Vietnam War, the most contentious conflict in our history.
The War on Terror was waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, with our men and women volunteering to fight for our security, wanting not to see a recurrence of 9/11 on our soil and ensuring those who initiated the attacks experienced what their victims had. Nearly 7,000 lost their lives in those theatres.
Those high profile wars mentioned above are but a few of the dozens that have occurred in and out of our borders. America’s history has long been saddled with military conflicts and occupations, warranted and unwarranted. No matter those circumstances, in all of them, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, perished.
Those soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen gave their lives so that we might chase the American Dream, strive to achieve the impossible, and live our lives to their fullest potential and enjoyment. They understood that even with her blemishes America has been, is, and will be a nation of power, honor and integrity, just as those individuals were in the moments leading up to their ultimate sacrifice.
Without them, we wouldn’t have everything we savor in this great nation of ours: free markets, a free press, and a free people. None of those “free” things are truly “free”. There was a cost. Blood was spilled and lives were lost to achieve and keep them.
So, it’s vitally important that each and every one of us take some time today to honor those who fell in battle. You need not partake in a parade or attend a solemn service but you should, in your own way, quietly and genuinely reflect upon and appreciate the accomplishments and lives of our fine armed forces of wars past and present.
From the 27 May 2019 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News