War takes a toll often not felt back homePublished 8:50am Monday, May 27, 2013
Column: Something about Nothing, by Julie Seedorf
Memorial Day 2013. That is today. It is a day of remembrance for those who have served and died for our country. It is also a weekend that signifies the start of summer and people use it for a time to get away, a time for fun and a time for getting together with friends and family.
Recently we had a 50th anniversary celebration of the life of our church. Pastors from the past came back to help us celebrate and to share their memories of their time with us.
The pastors’ memories all stood out and were very moving, but the one that moved me the most was when the Rev. John Mikkelson shared his memories of his time in our congregation.
His words and his emotions cut through to the heart when he said: “We buried too many of our young people when I was here during the Vietnam war.”
He went on to share his sorrow with the heart wrenching job of giving parents the news that their child had died. He had the job of consoling the unconsolable as they were racked with grief over the loss of their sons. He holds those memories forever and still grieves for those young men.
I was a teenager during that time. I had two good friends that were in Vietnam who I corresponded with. I knew the brutality of war, but I didn’t. I knew people from my community were dying, but I don’t think as a teenager I grasped the full scope of what was going on at the time, or maybe I was sheltered from it.
That era was very different from today when we are shown the reality on television and on the Internet. We didn’t have 24/7 news with reporters being filmed step by step on the battlefield so it didn’t always seem real because we were away from it until someone we knew died.
Listening to the pastor’s memories of the time he served at our church reminded me that wars and its memories do not just affect the military and the families of the military. The memories have lifelong effects on those pastors, nurses, doctors and anyone who have to deal with the harsh realities of the consequences of war. Those memories are never forgotten and the tears on the faces of many in our congregation in 2013 as the pastor was remembering were very real.
I know the impact now firsthand, because I live with a Vietnam veteran. I didn’t know my husband when he was in the Army but his experiences have definitely had an impact on our life together.
The Vietnam War many years ago has reached into the lives of the children of the veterans who were not even alive at the time of the conflict. It has done that for every war that the United States has ever fought. It is doing that now for the lives of those who are still unborn to military families who have been involved in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars today. War changes people forever.
The statistics from americanveterans.homestead.com are:
World War I
August 1914 to Nov. 11, 1918
U.S. casualties: 53,402 deaths, 204,002 wounded in action
World War II
Dec. 8, 1941, to Aug. 14, 1945
U.S. casualties: 407,300 deaths, 670,846 wounded in action
June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953
U.S. casualties: 54,246 deaths, 8142 missing in action
1959 to April 30, 1975
U.S. casualties: 58,193 deaths, 153,303 wounded in action, 1,948 missing in action
Aug. 2, 1990 to Feb. 28, 1991
U.S. casualties: 378 deaths, less than 1,000 wounded in action
March 20, 2003 to Dec. 15, 2011
U.S. casualties: 4,404 deaths; 31,827 wounded in action
War in Afghanistan
Oct. 7, 2001, to present
U.S. Casualties: 1,098 deaths, 2,379 wounded in action – ongoing
I would imagine that there might be some discrepancies in these numbers especially the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but these are the numbers reported on this website. They are staggering.
Remember. In some way if you are an American, your life has been changed by these men and women who have fought, died and still fight for you and me and our country.
Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.