Today is Memorial Day. Started in 1865 as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers , it has now become a national day of remembrance for all those who fell during war.
It's a irresistible platform for political blowhards of course and this year is no exception.
They like to swathe the war deaths in phrases like "noble service" and "saving freedom."
All that may be true, but doesn't make the soldier or sailor or Marine or airman any less dead.
4400 US troops have died in Iraq since 2003; 1087 in Afghanistan since 2001.
That means 10,000 grieving parents.
And grieving wives, husbands, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, sweethearts and friends.
Words may comfort, but they never remove the pain of that loss.
I am grateful we have men and women willing to serve our country, and willing to offer their lives as part of that service.
I pray we have leaders who recognize life is precious.
Perhaps instead of political speeches this year, they could simply stand silent for one second for each service member who has perished.
And that's just this war.
Vietnam: 58,236 dead and 1740 missing
Korea: 36,516 dead and 8176 missing
World War 2: 416,800 dead
And no matter what your thoughts are about who's right and who's wrong in a war, let's all remember those numbers are only American deaths. It doesn't count our allies or the other side. It doesn't begin to count those who perished in The Holocaust or at Stalingrad. The grief and loss in war is uncountable.
Life is precious.
Let us all vow on this Memorial Day 2010 to spend it carefully.
image is Gettysburg, PA taken by Walt Hubis