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Memorial Day is the national holiday to honor those who served in the armed forces and died. For many Americans, it’s a day off from work and cookouts. For those who’ve lost a loved one, it’s a day of mourning.

It’s easy to take our armed forces for granted. Some people even feel animosity toward them for “unjustified” wars. But there’s a difference between the powers of the armed services and those who serve under those authorities. While some wars have had deceitful or nefarious intentions, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still honor those who gave their lives for the freedom of all.

Over a million people have died in military service since 1775. This total includes 25,000 in the Revolutionary War, a staggering number of 602,000 in the Civil War, 35,729 in the Mexican-American and Spanish-American wars combined, 116,515 in World War I, 405,399 during World War II, 94,725 in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and another 7,078 in the more recent wars to fight terrorism.[1] This doesn’t include all of the other military personnel who lost limbs, sight, mental health, or are otherwise permanently disabled. Whether the causes were right or wrong, we should remember the sacrifices made by those who’ve given so much.

For the families who’ve lost a loved one in the military, or those who’ve suffered permanent physical losses, Memorial Day is not a celebration. Instead, it’s a painful day of remembrance and mourning. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy a day of cookouts and time with friends and family. But at the same time, we shouldn’t forget why we have this holiday and take a moment of remembrance and gratitude for those who’ve paid the high price of war.

Hopefully, someday, war will be a thing of the past. Maybe in the future, human beings will be able to talk out their differences instead of killing one another. Of course, there’s no reasoning with a lunatic whose mission is world domination. But even so, if all other countries are aligned with world peace and resist such force in a unified manner, it’s not so easy for dictators like Kim II Sung, Hitler, and Stalin to annihilate masses of people. Such is the purpose of the United Nations whose mission is to maintain international peace and protect human rights, but nevertheless, often backs down from potential conflicts.

There’s no excuse for wars that should never have started. Hopefully, someday, the biggest sacrifice will be a compromise among leaders, or making amends for mistakes instead of revenge or dominance. A world of ‘live and let live’ could be a safer world. Meanwhile, we must contend with the reality that there are still people who want world dominance and intrude on the freedom of others. Our own country is not innocent of unwanted intrusion — the quest for power is not limited to bad people.

When we remember the price of war, we can be less willing to needlessly sacrifice human lives and strive for alternative peace. But for now, taking time in remembrance of the losses that have occurred can bring us closer to the desire to prevent future wars.
Memorial Day honors those on the battlefield of our own country, their miraculous victory, and the reason we are free today. And despite all the talk about racism, let us not forget the lives that were lost in the Civil War by those who fought for black freedom. There are still countries that operate concentration camps and demand allegiance or death, thus the need to maintain a strong military. If we don’t appreciate the sacrifices that are made, we risk losing the safety we currently enjoy. Let us take a moment to be grateful for those who’ve risked their lives or paid the ultimate price for us civilians. Freedom is a beautiful thing and not always appreciated until it’s gone.

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Dr. Donna Marks has been a licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida, for over thirty years. In 1989, Dr. Marks developed a chemical dependency training program at Palm Beach Community College, which has grown into a four-year degree and received the Florida Governor’s Council Award. She is also a certified gestalt therapist, psychoanalyst, hypnotist, and sex therapist. She’s facilitated A Course in Miracles for over 30 years. In addition, she shares her methods with hundreds of thousands of listeners on podcasts, radio, and tv shows. Learn more about Dr. Marks, her books: Exit the MazeOne Addiction, One Cause, One SolutionLearn, Grow, ForgiveA Path to Spiritual Success, and The Healing MomentSeven Paths to Turn Messes Into Miracles, her services, and free offers.

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