by Frank Sartapia

There  are 1,541 American men buried in Suresnes, France. In the cemetery at  Meusse-Argonne, 14,246. At St. Mihiel, there are 4,153, and in Lorraine, 10,489  of our military dead.

There  are others in France: in Somme, in the Rhone valley, in Aisne-Marne and in  Brittany; hallowed ground where

the  mortal remains of fathers, sons and husbands, sent by their countrymen to defend freedom, lie under stark, white crosses,  a silent testament to the goodness and greatness of the United  States of America.

They  died in Sicily – almost 8,000 are buried there, and in Florence over 4,400; men  who fought to liberate Italy from the tyranny of fascism. And there are more  than 5,000 American dead in Luxembourg.

At  Henri-Chapelle lay the bodies of 7,992; in Ardennes, 5,329, and to end this  incomplete list, 528 Americans are buried where they fell – in Flanders’ fields,  where poppies grow. These three cemeteries are in Belgium.

All  are in Europe. I have not even touched upon the war in the Pacific. To do so  would be almost incomprehensible; in total, American military deaths during  World War II alone numbered over 400,000.

Let  the numbers wash over you – don’t permit yourself to be so overwhelmed that they  become meaningless. Think hard, concentrate on the magnitude of the sacrifice,  feel the pain of so many tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands —  of mothers who watched their little boys answer the call to defend freedom  everywhere — because that’s what Americans do. And make no mistake, no matter  what their age, to those mothers they were all just little  boys.

Close  your eyes for a few moments and think about these things, and you will find when  you open them that Memorial Day will mean something just a little different than  it did before.

There  are almost no words to describe the debt we owe those men and women who gave  their last full measure of devotion to the cause of liberty, a debt that is owed  by free men and women everywhere, because without the armed forces of  the United States, there would be freedom nowhere.

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