hopperbach


The ultimate sacrifice

tombstones of fallen soldiers

Memorial Day has come to be known for cookouts, picnics, boating and other varieties of good old American fun. Believe me, I have NO problem with that. I enjoy a big juicy char-broiled meaty burger straight from the grill just dripping with saturated fat (keep your wimpy tofu in the cupboard, libs) as much as the next guy. But let’s all take at least a few minutes today and remember that the freedom to do these these things was bought for us with a huge price. Here’s a little history of how this whole thing came to be:

After the U.S. Civil War many places in the U.S. began honoring their fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers. Although many towns take credit for originating the idea, the official birthplace recognized by the government is Waterloo NY. On May 5, 1868 General John Logan, commander-in-chief of a veteran’s organization called Grand Army of the Republic, issued this proclamation known as General Order No. 11:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

“Decoration Day” was later changed to “Memorial Day” and after WWI it was expanded to include soldiers who had died in all American wars. In 1971, congress declared the day a national holiday and changed it’s observance date from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

Just to get a sense of the sacrifice that has been made to keep you and me free, here are some stats:

WAR

NUMBER SERVING

WOUNDED

BATTLE DEATHS

Revolutionary War 217,000 6,188 4,435
War of 1812 286,730 4,505 2,260
Mexican War 78,718 4,152 1,733
Civil War (Both Sides) 3,213,363 354,805 191,963
Spanish American War 306,760 1,662 385
World War I 4,734,991 204,002 53,402
World War II 16,112,566 671,846 291,557
Korean Conflict 5,720,000 103,284 33,741
Vietnam Conflict 8,744,000 153,303 47,424
Persian Gulf War 2,225,000 467 147


Pretty sobering stuff. When you get a chance, be sure to look up and thank these soldiers today (trust me, they’re listening) as you spend quality time with those you love. Freedom is definitely not free.

Now fire up that grill, grab a Sam Adams, slap on some choice morsels of politically-incorrect food, get those delicious carcinogens going and enjoy your day. Have a great one, everybody.

.

Table courtesy of American Family Traditions

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