“Was their sacrifice worth it?”
That’s the question some are asking this Memorial Day weekend. In particular, they have in mind the 6,796 military men and women who have died fighting the War on Terror that began with an attack on this city.
It’s an understandable question after more than a decade of war. Even so, we suggest the emphasis is misplaced.
Those who gave their lives in the service of their nation are not victims. They were trained professionals, volunteers all, most of whom stepped forward after 9/11 to wear the uniform knowing the risks.
We are lucky to have such men and women, as well as those who have taken their places.
In towns and cities across America, Memorial Day is a time for bands and parades and kids by the sidewalk waving little flags as the marchers go by.
This city and the surrounding suburbs will have their share of those parades.
These are the obligations of a grateful citizenry. A nation, after all, is well judged by how it honors those who were sent out to fight its battles but did not live to make the return trip home.
And Americans certainly do not want us to forget their sacrifice.
But the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines also want us to enjoy the freedom they fought and died for.
Whether they gave their lives battling the Taliban on a mountain ridge in Afghanistan or al Qaeda on a dusty street in Iraq, they are the heirs of those who fought at Yorktown, Gettysburg, Normandy, etc. What we do with the freedom they helped preserve is as much a part of our tribute as any speech or ceremony.
So it strikes us that the question is not, “Was their sacrifice worth it?” It’s this: “Are we honoring their sacrifice in the way we are using the freedom they died for?”
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This article was written by the editorial board of The New York Post.