So are its numbers.
None know this heartbreaking fact more than the loved ones of the fallen soldier. It is he, or she, whom we honor today.
It is Memorial Day, a time to reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of American ideals like life, liberty and expression — freedoms that are privileges in our democracy yet not such a gift in the eyes of those who rule through oppression and who choose to intimidate by aggression.
Of the thousands of communities whose heartstrings entwine the collective conscience of our nation, we believe the residents of Cleveland and Bradley County continue to cling to humane values like commemorating heroism while bowing our heads in memory of those who have given so much.
In a Memorial Day address delivered May 31, 2004, in Ashland Ohio, at the community’s sprawling cemetery, speaker Peter W. Schramm told those attending the solemn ceremony, “We have come here to remember and honor those who have done their duty, as God allowed them to see that duty.”
To serve as a soldier in today’s America is a choice.
To die as a soldier in today’s America is a personal testament, one that tells a story of courage, commitment and camaraderie among those who share a common vision.
Its telling has come often.
Its telling, sadly, will be repeated.
In his words 10 years ago, Schramm spoke to the realities of war, its “brutal facts” as he called them.
In 80 months of the Revolutionary War, Americans suffered 10,623 casualties; among these were 4,435 deaths, or 55 Americans dying each month.
In 37 months of the Korean War, Americans suffered 136,935 casualties; among these were 33,651 deaths, or 909 Americans dying each month. In total, 36,516 American soldiers died.
In 90 months of the Vietnam War, Americans suffered 211,471 casualties; among these were 47,369 deaths, or 526 Americans dying each month. In total, the Vietnam conflict took more than 58,000 American lives.
In eight years of fighting in Iraq, from 2003 to 2011, some 4,487 U.S. soldiers lost their lives.
Brave American soldiers continue to die in Afghanistan; at last count since 2001, more than 2,178 have died, as the long conflict slowly draws to its close.
In his remarks, Schramm keyed on World War II as combat’s most brutal. In 48 months, Americans suffered 1,078,162 casualties; among these were 407,316 deaths, or 6,639 Americans dying each month.
He admitted his statistics of war might be incomplete; such counts evolve with time and history.
Their accuracy is not the point. Although simple arithmetic, these numbers signify far more than digits on a chart.
Each is a life, an American life — a brave American soldier’s life.
Each is why our nation embraces Memorial Day.
All are why communities nationwide like our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown host respectful observances on the Courthouse Plaza today.
We don’t do it because it is fashion.
We don’t do it because it is politically correct.
We don’t do it because it is tradition.
We don’t do it because it is expectation.
We do it because we choose to do it.
We do it because we remember.
We do it because we cherish a miracle called freedom.
We do it because those in our past have died to protect those in our future.
We do it because in towns like Cleveland life is not just for the living. Life here is for all ... the young, the old and those in our memory who remain ingrained in our hearts.
Let none doubt this pledge.
Our fallen soldiers will never be forgotten.
Not today. Not tomorrow. Not in days, weeks, months and years beyond.
This is their day.
It is Memorial Day, a time when reflection brings new life to those we have lost.
(Editor’s Note: In honor of America’s fallen soldiers, in tribute to those who called Cleveland and Bradley County their home and by request of Cleveland Daily Banner readers, the above Memorial Day editorial is reprinted with slight modifications. Its original publication date was May 30, 2011.)