Ever wonder what this country would be like if they hadn't all been lost?

We'll never know how much greater America might be if not for all those lives that ended in war. Young men, most of them -- over 2000 Americans lost in Iraq to date (may not be totally accurate), 300 in the Persian Gulf, almost 60,000 in Vietnam, 37,000 in Korea, more than 400,000 in World War II and nearly 120,000 in the first World War. The toll, of battlefield and other war-related deaths, is too staggering to contemplate.

How many of them would have blessed a peacetime America with their brain or brawn? How many were great leaders, teachers, inventors or just plain good, dependable folks who never got the chance to realize their dreams, ambitions and potential? How many lives away from the front changed course forever when "the news" was delivered by a somber man in uniform?

No, we'll never know.

But this is not to suggest that America's enormous war losses have been without purpose. For we do know this: Millions more Americans did have a chance to be leaders and teachers and engineers and parents because of what they did.

They fought to keep this land free, and in that freedom has come a way of life that most of the world's people can barely imagine. Even the most cursory reading of history makes it plain that the two -- freedom and prosperity -- go hand in hand. And so one must be defended, often at great cost, for the other to be possible.

What would America be like if war had not torn all these lives away from us? We'll never know. We only know what America is like because of what they gave to us.

And we know that we can never repay them.

Detroit Free Press





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