Copper John: Our Fallen Brothers Are Worth Much More Than One Day Each Year: They Deserve EVERY DAY

A NEW original OP-ED authored by The New Americanist’s own Copper John…

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s another Memorial Day quickly approaches, we must remember it as a day of honor, a day of sacrifice, loss & pain; a day of tribute & remembrance.  For more than 250 years, American military service men and women have been fighting and dying on the fields of battle around the world as well as our own soil.  Beginning with the 4,435 soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Revolutionary War, to the 7,708 men and women who died in the War on Terror, over 1,250,000 Americans, including Civil War Confederates, have made the ultimate sacrifice on the fields of battle.

The determined bravery and sacrifice of the American fighting man was born during the American Revolution.  Americans, consisting of businessmen, shopkeepers, farmers and other ordinary men stood against the most powerful military in the world of that time; and thanks to their courage and sacrifice, this country was born, along with the historic tradition of the finest fighting men this world has ever seen.  At no time though our entire national history have our soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines failed to answer the call when this country needed them. They answered this call even though these men and women knew they may never see their homes, family, friends or loved ones ever again.

How can a nation and its people best honor that kind of sacrifice?  We can honor their sacrifices by always remembering them; holding the lives and deaths of those men and women close & dear to our hearts.  As a nation, we must understand the fear they had to overcome and the courage they demonstrated in the line of duty which resulted in the sacrifices they made. We may not know the names of every soldier who gave their lives through the years, but we still KNOW WHO they were and that they DID.  They were our fathers & mothers, brothers & sisters, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. Most importantly, they were Americans and we must NEVER allow them to be forgotten.

We can’t really talk about these brave individuals without also talking about all the different times these Americans were called to serve and sacrificed for this great nation.  With each war and the numbers of fallen below, I have also noted the names of specific American GI’s who represent ALL the service members killed in that particular war:

The American Revolution (1775-1783) – 4,335 dead: Pierre Abraham Lorillard

War of 1812 (1812 to 1815) – 2,260 dead: Pollard Hopewell

Mexican-American War (1846-1848) – 1,733 dead: Levi Twiggs

American Civil War (1861-1865) – 620,000 dead: Jessie Grove (Union) Turner Ashby (Confederate) & Frances Clayton

Spanish American War (1898) – 387 dead: John Matza

World War I (1914-1918) – 116,708 dead: Fred Becker & Edith Ayers

World War II (1941-1945) – 407,316 dead: Jack Lummus & Aleda Ester Lutz

Korean War (1950-1953) – 33,651 dead: Bryant Moore & Genevieve Smith

Vietnam War (1959-1975) – 58,168 dead: Jim Holder & Beatrice Kosin

Gulf War (1990-1991) – 382 dead: Gene Hogun & Yvette Gay

War on Terror including Iraq & Afghanistan (2001 – 2021) – 7,708 dead including my friend Jerry Gass (he was a friend of SSG Scott Ross who is still with us today) & Nichole Gee.  There are also many other places in foreign countries where American military service members have died such as Panama, Somalia, Bolivia, Niger and Grenada. Of special note I would like to mention SSG Kevin Lannon of the 2nd BN 75th Rangers who was killed during combat operations in Grenada.

I mentioned the term “GI.”  GI stands for “General Issue.”  That’s a very fitting term used to refer to the American soldier.  The term GI means  ANY American can walk into any recruitment office of any branch of service; and just by the virtue of their blessing of the birthright of freedom and liberty can become the finest and most effective warrior the world has ever seen:  a “General Issue” citizen warrior. 

The fighters in the Revolutionary War first set this standard by slipping across the Delaware River on Christmas Day to surprise the Hessian mercenaries and route them with an unexpected and daring victory that many consider as the turning point of the Revolution.  Those same men would go on to sacrifice so much more the following year at Valley Forge with little food or shelter during the brutal winter. Many perished, but they did not desert their posts or garrisons. We must remember to honor their sacrifice during those incredibly dark and uncertain times. 

Since then, GIs have repeatedly stepped up to serve with honor, courage & sacrifice in ways most citizens cannot imagine. We can consider how it must have been for these men on the eves of their battles.  They may have been playing cards, joking or laughing with their friends; but somewhere in the back of their minds, they knew the next day could very well be their last on Earth. Yet they still performed to the highest level of their training and abilities. And many still paid the ultimate price. What kind of courage was necessary to crawl down the side of a ship on a rope ladder and into a landing craft headed to the beach at Iwo Jima? How is it possible to control feelings of apprehension and fear while strapping on a parachute; or, preparing to jump out of a plane down into a hostile continent in the middle of the night?  What drives brave men to jump from helicopters into hot landing zones in the middle of some hostile, faraway jungle?

Whenever I read such accounts, I am completely fascinated and left in awe. Particularly when I learn about the incredible bravery of our men in places such as the war in the Pacific.  Fighting ship to ship and knowing there is no place to run.  I think about the men flying damaged or crippled aircraft directly towards enemy ships; knowing they would not make it back from their mission; and yet, they charged on towards their doom regardless. During the most intense battles, the men of the US Navy never retreated.  Pushing forward relentlessly into the face of a truly fanatical enemy.  Learning about what it took to fly a bomber over Germany mission after mission has the tendency to make me feel small.  Thousands of bomber crew members still lost their lives over the European Continent knowing their odds for survival may be small, yet they NEVER retreated.  They continued pushing forward and fought at levels we can hardly comprehend today.

I listen to the stories about the life and death struggles in the depths of the dark jungles of Vietnam from friends who fought there.  The stories they tell about things which happened are enough to keep me awake and night. And they always talk about their friends who did not make it home.  The men who lost their lives in that war were some of the best and most elite fighting men this country has ever produced. We fought for more than twenty years in the extreme conditions of Southeast Asia against an unrelenting enemy; and once again. Year after year throughout our national history, our GIs have taken the fight to the enemies of freedom and America, fighting just as bravely and intensely as all the American troops in previous conflicts. Our GIs have undoubtedly lived up to the standard set by the spirit of the 1776 Revolutionaries.

Exactly why do American GIs fight so bravely?  Because American soldiers have always fought not only for this country, but also their brothers next to them in the foxhole, the MATV, the Bomber or wherever they are.  However, there is still something more which motivates the American warrior to fight and that is the original promise of this country for all people to live as free men. Americans basically fight for freedom, a quality which has unfortunately become disturbingly rare throughout the world today.  It is often said the United States is the LAST bastion of freedom on Earth. That’s really the most important of all the reasons why we Americans fight so hard. There are forces now the world and within our own borders which would like to take away that freedom.

Recently, it seems the honor and sacrifice of our American fighting men may be losing its meaning & significance among the very groups of people to whom it should actually matter most. Our veterans who have served are now being pushed out of their homes, left to be forgotten on the streets. The resources for their health care are now being diverted to other different social demographics for purely political reasons.  It seems as if the value of these men and women who gave their lives for the cause of freedom and this great nation they SWORE to defend may be undermined for political forces who are looking elsewhere for heroes.  However, while you and I still remain here today, we will always understand and remember the sacrifices all our fallen brothers and sisters made.  Human life is the most precious of all gifts from our creator; and today, we still live in freedom because of these warriors who gave their lives so that we may have ours.  As both individuals and a nation, we can never forget the ultimate price they all paid for us. In the midst of current raging political storms, we must remain committed to remembering and honoring their lives & duty. Always.

A single Memorial Day holiday during the year is simply not enough to adequately honor all of these exemplary Americans, yet this day remains our sacred bond to honor them. They gave everything including their hopes, dreams and lives for us and this wonderful country.  Whenever you see a sea of white headstones at a national cemetery, remember each one represents person who lived and once had the same life in them which is in you & I. Remember each person there had a personal history, family, friends, people they loved and cared for; and people who loved and cared for them. Let yourself feel proud, because these are America’s finest sons and daughters. The ground in which they rest is sacred and we owe them all no less than everything. I am resolved to honor and remember their service and sacrifices until my dying breath.✪

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