On May 8, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. It’s also known as V-E Day. (The war in the Pacific against Japan would continue until Aug. 15, 1945.) In World War II, America lost more than 405,000 sons and daughters in total. That sacrifice should never be forgotten.
Unfortunately, this milestone didn’t receive as much attention as it should have. There weren’t large events or commemorations and the daily news is preoccupied with other things.
Memorial Day is this weekend. The holiday itself began after the Civil War to remember those who gave their lives for their country. Over the years, it expanded to commemorate those who died in service to their country in any conflict.
Today, many people confuse the purpose of Memorial Day with Veterans Day, thanking living veterans for their service. Most of the veterans I know will say “Thank you” and then will deflect the attention to those that were lost.
Most of those who didn’t make it home would likely have said they were just doing their jobs. They understood it was part of the deal.
Today, the world is going through a new tragedy. Much like World War II, it is affecting every nation. While National Guard troops are serving their states, and the nation, in a number of different ways, this war is being fought on an entirely different front line. The soldiers in this war are the doctors, nurses and first responders.
Deaths from coronavirus, if you consider this a war (as the president has deemed it), makes this the fourth highest loss of American life of any war behind only the Civil War, World War I and II. If things continue the direction they are heading, there will be more deaths than in World War I by June.
My respectful proposal for this Memorial Day is that we use it to mourn and remember those lost during the COVID-19 pandemic alongside those killed during times of war. This should especially include the health care providers and the other first responders who have lost their own lives trying to save others from COVID-19.
This is not to take anything away from this nation’s war dead, but to remember that our friends and neighbors are sacrificing on a completely different front line against an unseen enemy.
And then next year, I vote that World Health Worker Week takes on a whole new level of importance.