Thoughts on Memorial Day

Mon, 2011-05-30 17:04

soldier memorial dayI have a number of anniversaries that I think about as they pass each year. There’s February 14, 2004 the day I left for Iraq; April 9-10, 2004 when Moqtada al-Sadr went nuts, the Marines withdrew from Fallujah, and a number of very good soldiers and marines gave their lives during the mayhem; June 14, 2004 when I was in a 14 hour firefight on the 125° roof of a home in Buhriz, Iraq; June 24, 2004 the day I saw some of my friends earn silver stars doing some truly heroic things; October 15, 2004 when I got engaged to my wife on R&R after not seeing her for nearly a year; November 8-24, 2004 when we went into Fallujah to help the Marines retake the city; January 24, 2005 when a group of soldiers who I knew well needlessly drowned in a canal just before the end of their deployment; February 24, 2005 the day I left Iraq, a little over a year after getting there.

To many Americans, Memorial Day is a 3-day weekend when summer unofficially begins. For me, it’s about the men and women of the military who have given the last full measure of their devotion. I think about what they gave up for their country and the life that I should try to live to honor their sacrifice.

It’s unfortunate that such a small segment of society (1%) has borne the burden of protecting everyone else (99%) during the last 10 years. I am convinced that the vast majority of Americans would be willing to sacrifice something to return the favor to the guardians of their freedom – if only they knew what to sacrifice. No politician – Democrat or Republican – has yet to ask Americans to give up anything, even though we are fighting 2½ wars right now (Iraq, Afghanistan, and oh, Libya).

It may not be popular to say during a time of $4/gallon gas, but I hope that someday we’ll have a gas tax so that everyone can “sacrifice” for the troops who protect our oil supplies every time we fill up our cars at the pump. The money from that tax could be used as a down payment for helping returning veterans reintegrate to society. It’ll never happen, but I’d be a lot less bitter next time I filled up my tank if I knew that at least some of my money wasn’t going to end up in the hands of someone who wanted to kill me.

Failing that, we’re doing the next best thing we can think of – trying to fix America’s energy problems so that we aren’t endlessly fighting over fossil fuels for the next 50 years. Everblue has grown rapidly because we’ve been fortunate to find staff, trainers, and students who all share the same commitment to improving America’s energy security. To each of them I say: Happy Memorial Day. To our fallen I say: Thank you – you are not forgotten.

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