Memorial Day in the United States arrives this year at a sobering time. As the violence and disorder continues in Iraq, American servicemen and women stand in harm's way there, in Afghanistan and around the world.
To help us all remember and honor them, Sunday's Oregonian includes a special tribute to the servicemen and women from Oregon and Southwest Washington who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. This memorial offers a list and images of those lost. "Farewell to the Fallen" also features a conversation with Governor Kulongoski, who never imagined he'd be attending the funerals of almost 50 Oregonians lost in the conflicts.
The Oregonian's tribute is a poignant reminder that our troops and their families deserve our thanks and need our support. This is the first modern American conflict where the nation has not been called on to sacrifice. Our leaders have neither asked us to pay the cost of the conflict against Al Qaeda, nor to bear arms in the service of our nation. There has been no clarion call to conserve precious resources or to endure privations at home.
But since September 11th, 2001, 1.4 million American men and women selflessly responded to their own call. They willingly chose to risk their lives every day so that we may enjoy the freedoms and privileges earned by past, shared American sacrifices. Whether we supported the war in Iraq or not, we are each immensely fortunate and forever indebted to America's military men and women.
They and their families honor us every day. The very least we can do is to remember the fallen, help the wounded, and comfort their families on this Memorial Day weekend.
Over at Perrspectives, I've assembled a set of resources, many by way of the Defense Department, where we can help support the troops. This resource center provides links to lists and images of the fallen, sending messages and care packages to the troops, charities offering family services, facilitating donations, and providing care and comfort to the wounded. These and other resources are available here.