Pictured above: Flag at half-staff at the Lexington National Cemetery and a child receives discharged brass from the ceremonial 21 gun salute - traditionally given to children as a tangible reminder of the sacrifices made for their present and future freedoms.
Last Friday, (May 28th) marked the 1000 death in Afghanistan, as a soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in a Southern Province. Furthermore, on June 7th, Afghanistan will become the U.S.'s longest war, surpassing Vietnam by a full month. Today, with the advent of modern-day medicines and efficient combat casualty care - more troops are coming home than in previous wars. For example, the U.S. has been involved in Operation Enduring Freedom for 104 months and sustained 1000 deaths, conversely, the U.S. was involved in Vietnam for 103 months and sustained 58,209 deaths.
Today's modern battlefield medicines are keeping are troops alive long enough to transport them to a hospital or aid station for more intensive treatment/care. Although more troops are coming home, they are bringing back parts of the war with them. As a result, about 18.5 percent of soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD and 19.5 percent have reported experiencing symptoms of traumatic brain injury, according to a study titled "The Invisible Wounds of War" by the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research group based in Santa Monica.
Each year the last day of May seems to get harder. The War(s) - and its' affect - on our nation, has seem to hit home much deeper year after year. It has been an incredible year for Veteran issues : The nation has wrapped its arms around the veteran community and it popular again to take a stance on "Veterans Issues". In Kentucky, particularly the city of Lexington, a revival of American Patriotism and spirit has been revitalized by some passionate veterans and dedicated citizens. You've seen the email that's circulated that Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, reminding people what Memorial Day weekend is all about - one image is the fumes of the grill drawn to take shape of fallen soldiers, and the man standing over the grill asking himself "What have I forgotten".
Over the course 104 months of the nations longest war - have you forgotten about Mike Spann, the first American killed in combat during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan? I hope not, and I desperately believe that we are a nation who stands in support of their operation overseas. The hope is, that every day is veterans day, that the military becomes once again a core belief amongst Americans for hope, victory and patriotism. I hope you took the time in between spending time with family and enjoying the weekend to remember the ones who have paid the ultimate price.