Saturday, May 23, 2009
Where Did They Fall?
Who were they?
They were just like you and me. They were some Mom's son, a Dad's pride and joy, a brother to a little sister, a best friend, a neighbor just down the street, a kid you taught in school or Sunday school, a member of your scout troop, a husband to a young wife, an unknown dad to a child growing up across the street.
What were they?
Before going off to war, they were salesman, students, teachers, athletics, doctors, laborers, business owners. They ran the theater or waited on tables at the corner diner, they were average men and women who answered the call.
After going off to war, they were soldiers in trenches, marines hitting beaches, pilots, mechanics, Captains, Privates. They were doing jobs they had never imagined. They were mopping decks on ships in the Pacific, manning a gun in a bomber over Europe, running communication wire in a battlefield, disarming land mines in a jungle.
When were they?
Because of man's propensity to war, they are from all times. Since our nation was founded, they have been answering the call. They fought for independence from England, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the war with Mexico, World War I-the war to end all wars, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, in Panama and Bosnia, the Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, the Cold War...
Where did they fall?
They were on a ship in Pearl Harbor, half buried in cinders on Iwo Jima, drowning off of Juno Beach, washing ashore on some isolated island in the middle of nowhere. They were trying to cross through a hedgerow in France, fight an enemy in the sands of Africa, hanging from a parachute in a tree in Germany, crumpled in wreckage of a once mighty bomber. They were on the floor of a prison hut in some jungle, they were tied to a post, stuck in the mud of a trench, or in some burning tank.
This may be the hardest question to answer. Why did they go? The call they answered was a call to defend freedom for us and provide freedom for others. They went to stop the likes of Hitler or Saddam. They had in their hearts a desire to stop evil.
They signed up for war for a variety of reasons: adventure, revenge, a family thing, my friend is going, they killed my brother, it's the right thing to do, patriotic reasons...
The truth is, some of the answers will never be known. Some of the dead will never be found. Some of the Mothers will never receive a flag and some of the children will never know Dad. With all the loss, pain, destruction and heartache experienced by so many over the short length of America, we would not be here without them being there!
What if the settlers had settled for being under the British king? What if the South had succeeded in splitting the USA into small pieces? What if Americans had stayed out of the affairs of Europe in 1917-1918? What if we appeased Japan and Germany and accepted that it was not our fight? What if Iraq had taken over other countries? What if the Taliban and Al Qaeda were still freely operating in Afghanistan? What if Saddam were still torturing and killing his own people?
What if Iran is left to develop a nuclear weapon? What if North Korea overruns the South? What if China eyes Japan? What if Russia and Iran decide it's time to rid the world of Israel?
What if America sleeps while a dictator assumes control? What if all of those liberties and freedoms that so many fought and died for are forfeited without a fight?
We have a debt to the past generations who provided the freedom we enjoy, to extend the same to the next generation. Too much blood has been spilled by too many brave men and women, for us to give up our liberties, our rights, our freedoms as if they had no value!