In Memoriam -- 05/31/04

We all know that Memorial Day grew out of Decoration Day, a day set aside to remember those who died in our Civil War.

I thought it would be appropriate to recall Lincoln's words from his address at Gettysburg.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who died here that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have hallowed it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

I have come upon various figures for those who have given their lives in battle. The Civil War, including both combat and non-combat deaths, and counting both North and South, claimed more than half a million lives.

According to infoplease.com (which has statistics for all major conflicts) in our nation's history, 42,348,460 have been in military service during wartime. More than one million of them gave their lives and almost one and a half million were wounded but survived.

Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and honor those who gave their lives. It would be good if every day we could remember all who have served in the past and to be thankful for those brave men and women who are protecting us today.

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