This is a Memorial Day post that missed Memorial Day. I spent the actual day reestablishing myself in Bahrain after a week’s excursion to Paris with my wife. It was a wonderful time, but it is difficult for this military-minded person to miss the many memorials sprinkled liberally throughout the City of Light.
It’s important as we remember American sacrifice to recall not only the benefits thus conferred on future generations by past ones (and, too often, the current one), but also how lucky we are that such sacrifices have been as light as they have been. There is no better country to visit than France to demonstrate this. Twice within the last century, and once within still-living memory, it has been threatened with national obliteration and not just threatened but delivered with mass death otherwise unheard of among the “civilized” nations, which could only be ended by delivering the same, and worse, to the instigators.
In the United States the Great War is, if not exactly an afterthought, certainly not well-understood and the stakes uncertain. This is not remotely the case in Europe, or even Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which fought vigorously on behalf of the mother country. A visit to one of the world’s oldest capital cities reinforces this.
So be thankful that Americans stood up when called upon, and made the ultimate sacrifice. And be thankful that, as a maritime power not often threatened at home, we have the luxury of forgetting why they did, and why they still do.
But some countries are not so lucky.