The Defense Department maintains the numbers of those killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Enduring Freedom and in New Dawn and in Inherent Resolve and in Operation Freedom Sentinel. You can go to their website and see the numbers. I looked on May 25 and they had the numbers to date, literally to date. It was dated May 25, 2016. In all of those conflicts the total number of casualties comes to 6,888, as of May 25, 2016.
As we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday I want to remember those 6,888 (or perhaps more since May 25) and pray for the families who gather today without them. Each number represents someone who was known and loved and is now missed.
It is frighteningly easy to forget that we have many military personnel (and civilians) in harm’s way. I am ashamed to say that some of the operations listed on that Defense Department document were ones I did not know about. The wars we are engaged in have gone on for years and many of us have the luxury of forgetting that they are ongoing. Today we are called to remember and give thanks for those who have lost their lives serving our country. We are called to remember those who mourn and do whatever we can to bind up the brokenhearted.
We are to remember the 6,888 lost to our contemporary wars and the many, many others who preceded them, never forgetting that each number represents a person, beloved by God and by someone, somewhere. If you need a powerful reminder I suggest you read “The Things That Carried Him” by Chris Jones. Then say a prayer for those for whom today is an especially painful one.