Memorial Day is a time to remember all the loved ones who have gone before us and especially to honor the sacrifice of people who have served their country in the U.S. military.
Because veterans of World War II are reaching an age at which many are dying each year, much attention has been focused recently on “the greatest generation” of military personnel who served in that war.
It’s important to remember, however, that members of the U.S. military still are fighting and dying around the world in the name of freedom. Many American families are mourning the loss of a mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter recently killed while serving in distant places like Iraq or Afghanistan.
Those conflicts command a certain amount of attention, but they aren’t a part of Americans’ everyday lives the way World War II was. Because the current conflicts are being fought by an all-volunteer force, many Americans may not have a close relative or friend in harm’s way. They don’t have to face the day-to-day dangers being encountered by our troops abroad.
Despite those dangers, U.S. troops are willing to represent their country and fight for freedom around the world. They fight to help others but mostly to protect Americans and the values they hold so dear.
On Memorial Day, veterans groups will help us honor the nation’s military with flags and ceremonies at local cemeteries. Those groups say it’s difficult to attract younger veterans and their membership is dwindling along with the number of World War II veterans.
Whether those groups continue to serve as a reminder or not, Americans should never forget those who are willing to leave their families and place themselves in dangerous situations to benefit both their nation and the world.