As we all know, this past Monday was Memorial Day. Last week, our local paper ran a special article which really brought the meaning of the day home to me. Titled “Why We Can Never Forget,” it was an article about the 56 men from our rural county who died in World War II. A member of the county historical society spent the last year researching these men. Five were highlighted in the newspaper.
Reading the short profiles was so sad. The first thing which struck me was how young they all were. The ages for the five men ranged from 18 to 28. Correction. The youngest was still about a month shy of his 18th birthday when he died. He was one of the many eager heroes who lied about his age in order to enlist.
The second thing that struck me was how much living they willingly gave up to serve and ultimately die for their country. The oldest of the five, at 28, was the only one married. The 23-year-old planned to get married to his sweetheart on his next leave home. The two youngest both dropped out of high school to enlist. Only think of everything they never got a chance to do.
And yet, in one sense, there is nothing special about these valiant young men. They are merely a sampling of the thousands of men across the country doing exactly the same thing back then. There were thousands of young men around the U.S. dropping out of school, leaving their sweethearts behind, quitting their jobs, or kissing their wives and children good-bye before they left to fight the Axis Powers. Their determined bodies held more heart and courage and honor than we can begin to comprehend.
So I hope you did more than break out the grill this past Memorial Day. I hope you at least paused for a few moments to reflect on all of the courageous men and women who have given everything they have in service of their country. Not just from World War II, but from all of the wars and conflicts our country has endured. And I hope your appreciation for their sacrifices extends beyond one day in May. My hope is that you always remember, and find ways to thank their families and counterparts today. The smallest act of kindness and thanks can go a long ways.
I am keeping the article from our local newspaper. It helps to remind me “Why We Can Never Forget” our military heroes. God bless them all.
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