Another Memorial Day is here. The flags are flying and flowers are placed upon the graves of our war casualties. Those who died in service are being remembered, honored and cherished.
- 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War.
- Over 37 million military personnel and civilians died in WW I.
- Over 60 million people were killed in WWII, which was over 2.5% of the world population.
- 178,426 people died in the Korean War.
- 58,286 military deaths occurred in the Vietnam War (including the missing-in-action and deaths in captivity).
- 147 deaths occurred during the January – April 1991 Persian Gulf War
- Over 5,280 have perished in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
But our country has so far to go before it really celebrates our veterans.
Our servicemen and women took an oath (officers of the National Guard take an additional oath):
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
It has no time limit.
This is the oath of office set by statute (5 U.S.C. 3331) that our Congressmen and women take:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
I’m not sure…but I think it lasts as long as their term.
If a serviceman or woman breaks his/her oath, it is treason.
If a Congressman or woman breaks his/her oath, it’s a public relations problem that needs to be spinned.
Because the oaths are the same for both groups, the pay, compensations, perks, health care benefits and security are the same, too. Right? Obviously, no.
When budget cuts are necessary, our veterans and their families take the brunt while our politicians raise their salaries.
As political tensions between countries/leaderships increase or humanity is being destroyed, our Congress can often be quick to send the men and women who took an oath of service to our country into war or “conflict”, asking them to risk their lives, mental and physical health for us. These same men and women become blind, deaf and dumb to the servicemen and women’s needs for healthcare, sustainable living and employment when they return from combat or retire from service. No great pensions or ongoing salaries/benefits for them.
I think it is necessary, noble and honorable to have Memorial Day to celebrate those who have served our country and are no longer with us. But it is more necessary, noble and honorable to start giving our living veterans what we give politicians, and our politicians what we give veterans. Then the flags that fly would be truly patriotic and the flowers that dress the graves would truly not be in vain.
To all those who serve, and those whose memories we honor today, thank you for your service.