EDITORíS DESK: Remembering our defenders
That was a fine lunchtime get-together with area military veterans June 14 at the Peak Grill. I got to hear Henry Boswell tell what it was like being a D-Day paratrooper, and to talk with Jane Rodgers, who enthusiastically coordinates those monthly restaurant gatherings.
Now Jane has challenged herself anew by starting a chapter of the nationwide Honor Flight program. It's a tall order, when statistics show 23,000 veterans (many close to 90 years old now) living in southern Colorado and a cost of about $800 to send one of them to Washington, D.C. to visit the National World War II Memorial and other military-appreciation shrines. But reflecting on that, I realize there's another way of looking at those numbers. That's to consider all those who defended our freedom and did not come home. Here's a statement I ran across about the World War II Memorial: "The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war." That's a bit mind-numbing when we consider that in our current war against radical Islamists the media has the luxury of listing the individual names and even back-stories of soldiers who pay the ultimate sacrifice. A wall created to honor Vietnam War veterans (a transportable version of which has travelled to the Springs) lists the names of the roughly 58,000 soldiers who died there. But such individual niceties were hardly possible in June of 1944 when the number of Allied deaths in the D-Day invasion totaled about 10,000 (6,600 Americans), followed less than two weeks later by the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific Theater, where close to 15,000 more Americans fell.
The sad part is that as time goes by, it's easy to forget all that. Jane even related an experience with a young editor at an area publication (which will go unnamed) who asked her if she'd made up the term "The Greatest Generation."
Some people say we should always thank our soldiers when we see them. I've tried that, but couldn't avoid making it embarrassing. At the very least we can feel a sense of private gratitude. And if that leads to helping with the Honor Flight, it's certain to be an act neither you or they will ever forget.