Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

So, I try and write something serious about Memorial Day every year, because it's a holiday that really means something to me. This year, I decided to just post a link to this article. It talks about it's subject better than I could:

If you don't read it, it talks about America's last living survivor of World War I. This man is 107 years old, and actually had to convince an Army recruiter that Missouri didn't keep records of birth so that he could enlist and go fight in Europe prior to turning 18. Now, he is the only one left. To me, that's incredible.

Reading about this guy made me think about WWI and our current war. While I would never in a million years try to compare the valor of those soldiers to today's troops, I would point out that we are lucky that this current war has had a relatively low human cost. Do you realize that France's male population was reduced by 10% during WWI? More troops were lost in a single day than we have lost in this war. During the Battle of Verdun, which lasted roughly 8 months, the British lost 542,000 troops. That's 67,750 per month, or roughly 2200 per day. The Germans lost about 432,000, or 54,000 per month. That works out to roughly 1800 per day. Combined, that means that in one 8 month battle, 4000 men per day were dying. This, of course, does not take into account French losses and any other skirmishes that were incurred during the 8 month period that the Battle of Verdun encompassed.

Now, those aren't American troops, but the example goes to show what an incredible meat-grinder WWI really was. It is my hope that it also makes you think a little bit about the sacrifices American troops have made throughout our history. Philosophical arguments as to the validity of the war on terror and Vietnam and nostalgic looks back on Korea and WWII aside, American troops have been putting boots on the ground and dying for us for a long time. Please take a second and think about that tomorrow.


katdish said...

Thank you. (For the post, and for your service.)

Really, thanks very much.

J.R.Shirley said...

I was thinking about this today, actually. I played a few minutes of Medal of Honor, and thought of thousands of young troops bleeding out, being blasted apart, and drowning on the beaches of Normandy. Every war has its costs, but the immediate costs of the current conflicts are pretty darn low.