Looking at the empty seats on a stage set up for a Veterans Days parade, I couldn’t help thinking about how so many of our U.S. soldiers never lived long enough to partake in the celebration. The empty chairs reminded me of all the lives that were lost over the years by American soldiers who defended our country’s freedom and who were killed.
Today there will be veterans from four wars standing next to one another with one thing in common; their commitment to serving our country and the sacrifices they made to do this. The few people left from WWII still remember the loss of lives even though it’s been decades since they served. Some 402,000 soldiers were lost during that war. My grandfather, an Italian immigrant, proudly fought in this war, receiving medals along the way.
Now in his late-seventies, my father served in the Korean War. He was lucky, they sent him to Germany to work on SOS communications, yet many he went to Boot Camp with never made it home. An estimated 54,246 American soldiers were killed in this war and another 8,196 were reported as MIA.
My Uncle served in the Viet Nam War, where he received three Purple Hearts after he was severely injured when a fellow soldier and friend stepped on a land mine and was blown up into pieces right in front of him. My uncle lives, yet has never been the same and if he is still alive, he wanders the streets of Miami as a homeless person. TheViet Nam War went on from 1955-1975 where an estimated 63,000 solider lost their lives.
The Iraq War, which began in 2003, had less casualties with 4,486 estimated soldiers dying in their efforts to protect America and to ensure our freedom. This war continues as our world remains unsettled. Many more will die. until we can get some stability in this region.
To all the American veterans and current military personnel, I salute you for the sacrifices you have made and continue to make to ensure our freedom. Thank you. God Bless America!