By LARRY M. JONES
Last November, I felt honored to be asked to speak at the Veterans Day ceremony held in Weatherford. This event is held annually here to honor Parker County residents who served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Brian Smith, a reporter for the Weatherford Democrat, covered the event, and he highlighted a quote I used in my remarks: “All gave some; some gave all.”
At the Veterans Day gathering I used this anonymous quote to point out that every veteran gave a portion of his or her life in the service of our country. On Monday we observe Memorial Day, a day to honor those who gave all.
I would dare say that most Americans today cannot name even one personal acquaintance that lost his or her life serving in the Armed Forces. Because such a small percentage of the American population in recent decades has served in the military, it is unlikely that the ultimate sacrifice by so few would be common knowledge to the average citizen. World War II affected almost everyone in some way whether through military service, defense manufacturing, production of war materials or sacrifice due to commodity rationing. Everyone knew of acquaintances, friends or family who lost their lives during the war. Every grunt who lugged a Garand rifle in Korea, those who packed an M-16 through the steamy rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam, and those who flew off Yankee Station or some other God-forsaken air base knew of many friends they will never see again. The same can be said for those who have endured over a decade embroiled in a seemingly endless and bloody struggle in the Middle East.
With just 6.5 percent of all Texans having ever served in the military, and with so few of those ever placed in harm’s way, it is little wonder that few among us can put a face on any of the tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the service of our country. For the average citizen, Memorial Day is merely another three-day weekend during which we go shopping during great sales on furniture and appliances, go to the lake picnicking and boating, or just relax over the backyard barbecue grill enjoying a few cool drinks with family and friends.