Something every story needs is a hero. Heroes are made through conflict. It is their courage in facing up and dealing with conflict that makes them heroes. And something every hero needs is a cause worth fighting for. If there is a quintessence of what writing is all about, I would say that’s what it is. Literature’s purpose is to fill the world with heroes.
Today I’m writing in honor of a type of hero you find outside fiction. They don’t slay dragons, they don’t fight windmills, they don’t fall down rabbit holes or melt rings of power or fight killer jungle animals, at least not usually–their job is less glamorous, less glorious, and much harder.
I’m talking about the soldier. I’m talking about the men and women who serve their country, to keep people like you and me safe, and to preserve their way of life and their freedom. And that’s a cause worth fighting for.
They’re the people who realize freedom is not free. It comes at a price. It costs something: it costs lives, and limbs. It costs war, work, courage, and so much more, so many things that every day our military is out there giving.
Ninety-five years ago, Germany and the Allies of the first World War signed an armistice, putting an end to the conflict. The casualty was over 37,500,000. A year later, the world observed Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day and Poppy Day in other countries) in memory of the soldiers who had fought and died for their cause. This day has been a commemoration of war veterans, alive and dead, ever since.
Only an approximate 100,000 of that 37 million were American. It’s estimated that in the course of U.S. history, the lives of over 1,300,000 men and women in service have been lost to war; more than 1,500,000 have been wounded. That’s nearly 3,000,000 human beings who suffered the cost of war so that we our country can continue to enjoy its freedom. You wouldn’t be sitting comfortably at your computer or thumbing your iPhone right now if it wasn’t for them.
That doesn’t even come near to the unimaginable number of men and women who have served our country’s military in the last 236 years of our nationhood. But the definite knowledge that over three million people have sacrificed so much for our way of life is enough.
Think about all the men and women who have given their lives for their country, whether it’s this country or another. Think about all the people who lost friends, parents, children, siblings, to war. Think about all those heroes.