Since 1775, over a million men and women have given their lives in service to the United States of America, that we may be able to live in the freedom we enjoy today. War is an awful thing, but it has been absolutely necessary to secure our freedoms.
Rag-tag militias fought, some reluctantly and for reasons they did not understand, to secure colonial independence from Great Britain. The leadership, cunning and inspiration of George Washington helped provide critical victories and maintain a semblance of order to the Continental Army through hard battles and a harsh weather through 1776.
1812 brought Britain’s attempt to retake the colonies, but we stood undeterred and continued to fight for our right to be independent and free. The Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War in the 1830s and 1840s, partly independence and partly expansion, included a number of bloody fields of battle, including the Alamo and the Thornton Affair.
As our country struggled with economic and philosophical disagreements, we reached a point of internal strife that resulted in Civil War. Many fought and died to promote and defend differing ideas of what Freedom meant. Many more would find new freedom as the evil of slavery was finally eliminated from our national landscape. Its legacy would carry on for decades, even to this day, a stain that permeates the soul of our country in ways we might never have imagined.
We don’t always have a history of perfect action and respect for others, as shown in the our dealings with the Indian nations in the latter part of the  19th century. This was a confusing time for many with regard to freedom and wielding expansionistic power. I suspect the numbers of Native Americans who died in these conflicts have never been appropriately counted as the Civil War deaths on both sides were.
The Spanish-American War, furthered the expansion of US interests in 1898 (although non of the acquired territory, Guam, Puerto Rico  and the Philippines, has yet to become actual states, and the Philippines have since achieved their own independence).
The outbreak of hostilities in Europe in World War I in 1914 (a classic example of the Domino Effect if you ask me) after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austro-Hungary (heir to the throne). The United States joined the battles in 1917 after Germany apparently sought Mexico’s alliance in attacking the US (presumably as a means of preventing the US from entering the war… talk about stupid). It is likely that economic issues could have caused the US to enter the war anyhow. The weapons of war had started to become more devastating by this time, including the use of poison gases, dreadnoughts and airplanes. This was thought to be the ultimate and final war of all time. This war essentially ended when the Central Powers (Germany, Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, etc.) gave up and pulled their f orces back.
 When the Japanese attacked the Marco Polo Bridge in 1937, and the Nazis started marching across Poland in 1939, few could have known the result would be an even more devastating war effort across so much of the entire planet. Bombings and battles occurred throughout most of Europe, South-east Asia, North Africa, and the Pacific. The United States itself was prepared on both coasts for potential attacks from air and sea. And Hawaii, at that time a military base and territory for the most part, was attacked mercilessly by the Japanese in 1941 which led to the entry of the United States into the war against the Axis Powers (Japan, Germany and Italy). This war did not end until Germany was humiliated and destroyed, and two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. As the war was ending in Europe, we also discovered the extent of the evil that had pervaded Germany as the evidence of the murders of likely millions of Jews and other Europeans were uncovered at concentration camps throughout Europe.
Many of us are old enough to remember the fighting in Korea and Viet Nam, where the US acted to defend Democracy against Communism. Viet Nam is the first time, I believe, where those who served honorably were treated with dishonor and open hostility by their countrymen. It is unthinkable to me that anyone would presume to criticize those who fought to protect freedom, regardless of where, for the sake of our own freedom… that their willingness to die for our sake could be treated with such rancor is just despicable to me. Although it began somewhat in WWII, guerilla tactics and a rejection of honorable codes of conduct by our enemies made fighting wars increasingly unpredictable.
In the past 30 years, we’ve had a long period of more or less peaceful coexistence. We engaged in an effort to protect tiny Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army invaded them. Many think we should have gone all the way to Baghdad and killed Saddam at that time. I was one who believed that at the time, but an overt operation would have been rejected by most of our international partners, and a covert operation would have been shown for what it was.
September 11, 2001 changed our entire perspective on world. Prior to that day, terrorism was other countries’ problems, not ours. We certainly had some military incidents  overseas with terrorist attacks, but we gave that less mind than we ever should have. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing (at the time considered to be a failure), the 1998 US embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania, and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 should have been wake-up calls to our nation.
As a result of apparent associations between Saddam Bin Ladan (and other terror organizations) and intelligence that indicated Iraq was secretly building weapons of mass destruction, including a possible nuclear arms program (since then this intelligence appears to have been faulty), the US attacked Iraq and helped establish a democratically elected government. The jury is still out on how well Iraq will use their new-found freedoms. We maintain a presence there in the midst of internal and external military aggression and political infighting that continues to challenge the new government.
We will probably always have a presence in numerous flash-points around the globe, as well as strategic locations and anywhere our allies ask us to help. Part of maintaining our freedoms here in the US is helping other nations maintain theirs as well.
As we have said on several occasions past, our brothers and sisters in the various armed services are considered friends to us here at The Conservative Reader, and we owe each of them a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. Their families also deserve our deepest appreciation and affection. To those of you that have lost loves ones, we are sad with you, and we pray  that the pain will become bearable in time. For those who have loved ones on active duty, especially overseas, pray for their safety and yours, and that your needs are well met… we deeply appreciate the way you serve by sacrificing in this way. For those of you who actively serve or remain on reserve status, I don’t know what to say other than “Thank You”. You are all my friends and heroes, and I cannot adequately express my gratitude. Be safe.
And if you see anyone associated with the military today, or any other day, you give them a big smile, handshake, hug, and “Thank You”. Don’t be shy. They deserve it.
By the way, if you don’t agree with the wars we are engaged in, don’t take it out on those who serve in the battlefields. Remember where the decisions have been made:
Update: Corrected a bad date.