Editorial: Don’t forget reason for Memorial Day

·3 min read

There’s little doubt what will be on the minds of many people on this holiday: They will be happy to be unmasked, to be free to socialize more normally with friends and to have hope that we might just be turning the corner on this long, dreary pandemic.

Those Memorial Day parties in the backyard or on the beach will be especially sweet this year because we no longer take the privilege of having them for granted.

Remember, too, as people are enjoying a return to something like normal life as we head into the summer vacation season, that COVID isn’t gone yet. Especially those who have not been vaccinated, but all of us really, should still proceed with caution and common sense. Variants are lurking, and there’s the possibility of another surge of deadly cases.

Yet, what a relief! But in the midst of celebrations, we shouldn’t forget that this holiday is about more than what we’ve come to consider the start of summer. As always, it’s worth a reminder that this day is set aside not to celebrate, but to remember and honor those who have died in the service of the country we all love, despite our deeply divided politics.

One thing you can do is Join in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 this afternoon and think of those who have died for our freedoms.

This is a momentous Memorial Day because this country is about to mark the end of another of our many wars, our longest war in fact. By the time Memorial Day 2022 rolls around, the U.S. War in Afghanistan should be history.

If all goes well, according to the plans of President Joe Biden and the efforts of military leaders, the last troops should be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the airborne terrorist attacks when the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon was damaged and heroes aboard forced another of the hijacked planes to crash in a field in Pennsylvania.

That outrage prompted the United States to invade Afghanistan less than a month later, on Oct. 7, 2001, to remove the Taliban from power and stop the country from providing a safe haven for terrorists.

U.S. troops have been there ever since, in dwindling numbers. But as it has become clear that we cannot transform Afghanistan into a stable democracy, an end has been called.

The official total of U.S. troops who died in that war is listed at 2,312.

They leave loved ones who mourn them even if most Americans stopped thinking much about Afghanistan years ago.

And although Memorial Day, unlike Veterans Day, is specifically a time to remember our war dead, it’s good to remember that part of the reason the death toll from 20 years of war in Afghanistan isn’t higher is because medical treatment in the field has improved. There are also veterans with permanent injuries. They and many whose wounds may not be physical struggle with the effects of their wartime service.

We can honor those who have sacrificed all by remembering them and also by supporting those who still serve, and their families. Living in a military community, you may well have military families as neighbors. Find out if there are ways you can help. Families of deployed troops may need something as simple as help with yard work, or maybe just a friend.

Let your representatives know you strongly support better pay, benefits and health care for those in our all-volunteer military.

Support legitimate organizations including the USO that help deployed troops, military families, wounded troops and veterans. Donate, send care packages and participate in other ways.

It’s been a long year, so enjoy this Memorial Day, if cautiously. And pause a moment or two to think of those who have died in our service, and to resolve to do what you can to help those still in uniform.

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