Memorial Day is often referred to as the unofficial start of summer. By the time it hits each May, the thermometer has risen to a level where the low temperature each day would be welcome in December. It’s a holiday weekend, so most of us are able to enjoy three days away from the office and gather with family and friends.
But when you get a chance, away from the cookouts and picnics, I hope you will take a moment or two and remember those who died in service to our country so that weekends like this are possible.
While we honor all of those who have died on the battlefield or in places or missions about which we’re unaware, I am always especially intrigued about those who served in World War II. That was probably the closest the entire world came to succumbing to evil. If not for the fortitude and sacrifice of “the Greatest Generation,” who knows what our world—flawed as it may be—would be like today.
The turning point of the conflict came on June 6, 1944. Whether you remember it as D-Day, the Battle of Normandy or Operation Overlord, it was a day that both the Allies and their Nazi enemies knew was coming. They also knew approximately where it would occur and when.
With everyone knowing what was about to take place, I think about what it must have been like to have been a soldier, sailor or paratrooper facing their very mortality. Today we know that 425,000 men—both Allied and German soldiers—were killed, wounded or went missing on the shores of France on that fateful day.
Imagine being a young soldier in a landing craft heading toward the beach. Bullets are flying, bombs are exploding, mines are hidden all along the coast—and you’re heading straight toward all of it. If you were a paratrooper, estimates today were that your chance of survival was only 1 in 4. And, chances are that if you were there, it was because you volunteered. That’s right, only about 20% of the American soldiers who served during the war were drafted. So why were they there?
To preserve our freedom, and our way of life, from a madman.
That’s what I think about every Memorial Day. I hope you will join me in remembering and honoring all those who have given their lives to protect our country over the years.