I am a blessed and fortunate American. More than 1.3 million Americans have died in war to preserve my life, liberty and happiness. Yet I have not had to experience the loss of a close loved one due to war.
Not having served in the Armed Forces myself I struggle to understand the sense of duty required to enter service ready to die for your country. I can’t grasp it but I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart to those who meet that call.
One of the tougher things I ever had to cover as a journalist was the memorial service for Capt. Kermit Evans, an explosive ordnance disposal guy assigned to Cannon Air Force Base, who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2006.
By the nature of his job description Capt. Evans knew every time he was called out that he was putting his life at risk. As a successful civil engineer in the Air Force he didn’t have to step up and go to bomb school but he did because he wanted to do more said his comrades.
I was even more humbled recently at the activation ceremony for the new 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon. Before the ceremony could end the new members of the squad paid homage to those comrades in the Special Tactics community who had lost their lives in service to their country.
They paid their respects by doing pushups for each person killed. Not surprising when you find out about their commitment to being the best.
The Civil War was the bloodiest by far for our country with more than 625,000 war dead, followed by World War II, World War I and Vietnam in that order. The current war we’re engaged with The War On Terror has claimed more than 6,700 souls on a battlefield where we bring overwhelming numbers, skill and technical ability.
But our enemies still have the ability to take proud American lives as they act from the shadows and safety of crowds with snipers, roadside bombs and suicide missions.
We may be losing fewer soldiers in the modern age but the price is still high.
How can we ever repay the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice?
Maybe we should start with a little reflection and appreciation of those who lost their lives protecting our freedoms. Maybe it wouldn’t be too much to attend a Memorial Day ceremony. Maybe, if we can’t tear ourselves away from our barbecues, our jet skis and our motorcycles long enough to do that, we can at least get on our knees and offer a prayer for those who died.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: