Every day is Memorial Day.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a hardly comprehensible toll on the lives, and psyches of those involved. Closing in on 12 years of war, 49,897 American young men and women have been wounded in actual ground combat in these wars, with 7,024 who have made the ultimate sacrifice. (These numbers do not include the 9/11 attacks.)
56,921 total lives forever changed.
Here’s a little bit of theory on numbers-
Let’s say that every one of these lives has 2 parents, 1 sibling, 1 significant other and 2 close friends. That makes for 6 more lives which will be directly or indirectly effected from these wounded service members or fallen service members. This makes for 341,526 people whose lives have been directly effected by the over decade-long, dual-fronted war on terror.
So as a minimum total, 1.1% of Americans have been impacted directly by the result of this war.
America has had it easy. Yes, there have been rises and falls in the past 12 years. The Economy went up and down, Gas prices went up and down, news coverage of the wars went up and down, but nothing really happened here that interfered with our normal day-to-day lives.
Americans are extremely talented at ignoring the issues, and pretending that every thing is fine. How many times does it happen in a day? In passing, we ask each our fellow citizens how they are, and the only appropriate answer is “fine.” or any of it’s similes.
I’m not going to try and get the world to take action or go up in arms about how false we are with one another, but maybe every once in a while we can put some actual effort into it. Memorial Day is coming up. For many Americans, this means a day off of work, a barbecue, a six pack, and maybe a sale at Macy’s. However for at least 1.1% of Americans, I guarantee that it is a day of remembrance, reckoning, and often times mourning. For survivors of combat, every day is memorial day.
Do something. I am almost certain that every person in America knows a Veteran. Say hi. Give them a hug. Take them out to dinner. Offer to watch their kids. Anything. These people have given so much. What can you give back?
A U.S Marine during a raid in Fallujah, Iraq back in 2004. According to what’s been said about these images is that the Marine’s issued M16A4 had malfunctioned and he resorted to using a battlefield pickup. Note that his rifle is still slung at his side.
It could also be said that he picked up the shorter, more compact PPSh-41 for the closer quarter’s environment, something the long M16 isn’t ideally suited for. Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to mention the historical comparison. The invading Nazis often used captured PPSh-41’s for the cramped urban combat in Stalingrad, ditching their unwieldy and slow firing Mausers.
A local cyclist passes a British Challenger 2 tank of the Queen’s Royal Lancers that is providing perimeter security for a British military headquarters at the Shaat Al Arab Hotel in Basra City, 2003. Photo by Maj Angus Beaton.
A British soldier stands guard in a street shortly after British forces moved into Basra City, 2003. Photo by Photo by Maj Angus Beaton.
An Iraqi woman passes a British soldier during Operation Charge of the Knights-14 in Basra City, 18-19 June 2008. Photo by Cpl Rob Knight.
A British soldier of the Royal Anglian Regiment takes up a defensive position during Operation Charge of the Knights-14 in Basra City, 18-19 June 2008. Photo by Cpl Rob Knight.
The fall of Baghdad. Iraq 2003. Andrew Cutraro.
When it all began…
There’s always time for a quick cuppa.
“I Love U Stephaine”
(Terry Boyd/Stars and Stripes)
Soldiers Saved by Bullet Proof Glass