When asked by a Life magazine photojournalist what he most wished for, an American soldier in the Korean War responded with: “Give me tomorrow”.
In a war that America wasn’t ready for, this was the heart of those who fought for the freedom of South Korea. They were up against unbelievable odds, but their commitment to what they’d been asked to do was unwavering.
The wars America has fought throughout her history fascinate me. As a country, we’ve often fought for principles and values, rather than conquest and expansion. Our choice to help in other world conflicts hasn’t always been well received, especially by our own countrymen.
My dad fought in World War II and never really wanted to talk about it. Except for the poker games he was part of on board ship while in transit.
After the war, he wanted to forget, move on. Not let the dynamic of battle define him.
I lost friends in the Viet Nam war. Guys who had been drafted and didn’t really want to go but served from a sense of duty. Part of the responsibility of being an American.
Viet Nam was a very unpopular war. The first war to be televised, we as a country saw more of the ugliness and brutality of war than we wanted. Protests popped up all over the nation, including celebrities who spoke more from wanting their own platform than truly discussing what was happening.
When our soldiers returned from this conflict, many maimed and mentally burned by images they would never unsee, our country turned our backs on them. We heaped shame on them for having responded to the call of duty.
All the battles in the Middle East, from Desert Storm to Iraq to ongoing war zones where our men and women serve now have made us calloused to the cost of war. To the loss of lives that is exacted from battles directed by those making choices for the ones who carry out the plans. Yet we all have some connection to those who’ve suffered for the cause of freedom.
Memorial Day is a time to celebrate those men and women who’ve sacrificed for their country. Some suffer from PTSD, constantly reliving the pain, panic and power of death constantly. Many are maimed physically. Others have come back to disastrous circumstances they hadn’t prepared for when they left the front lines.
Add to that the first responders in this country who work to protects us from problems that surface at home. Natural catastrophes. Continued unrest on our soil.
These men and women have been changed by what they’ve experienced. Choosing to do what many of us would never even consider.
This world has become a war zone. It just looks different in different places.
On this day of remembrance, let’s thank God for those who’ve sacrificed for our comfort and freedom. Let’s recognize our incredible blessings as a nation. We’re not perfect, but we’ve much to be grateful for.
Let’s recognize the value of every living person, made in the image of God.
We choose daily how we treat others.
All any of us really want is tomorrow.