Feb 19 1927 - Feb 19 1945

by James Glaser
May 28, 2003

That is all I saw on that tomb stone as I was placing the flags on veterans graves for Memorial Day. I thought to myself that this Marine died on his eighteenth birthday. I wonder what happened?

February 19th, 1945 meant nothing to me, but for millions of Americans that date brought back a lot of horror. That was the day that this Marine and thousands of others were coming ashore at an island named Iwo Jima.

Eighteen years old and dying, either wading ashore under fire or dying on the beach, maybe never firing a shot. 6,821 Marines died on that island, along with over 20,000 Japanese soldiers.

Did this Marines death change the war? Did taking this Island? Could we have gone around this island and let these Japanese waste away, as we moved on past? We will never know.

That is kind of like another tomb stone that says PVT US ARMY June 1 1926 - JUNE 6 1944. Even I knew that one, D-Day! Another eighteen year old American that died on the beach or in the surf coming ashore. Eighteen.

PVT US MARINE CORP 1932-1950 This time it wasn't a beach, but maybe a frozen death in Korea at the Chosen Reservoir, where Marines carried their dead with them, in the snow and cold, fighting, not for America, but the United Nations.

How about the eighteen year old PVT US NAVY Jan 15 1950 - Jan 31 1968. He was a Navy Corpsman with the Marines at the start of the TET Offensive in Vietnam, going to help someone else as the bullets cut him down.

Think of PVT Michael L. Fitz, also eighteen, of Horicon, Wisconsin. He died on the last day of fighting in our first War with Iraq. Just one more day and everything would have been all right.

Now in this war with Iraq we have more Privates dying. Pvt. Jonathan L Gifford, 1st Bn. 2nd Marine Exped.Bde. of Decatur, Ill. Was one, another young American dying in a foreign land.

I just happened to notice some graves of young Americans who died way too early and I have to ask if they should of. I have to ask if their deaths made America safer. Having been in combat I would have to say, no.

Fifty nine years between the first and last death I noticed and still our nation is sending young Americans to die in wars on foreign lands. There are many countries that haven't had a war since World War 2. They learned what a waste war is, we haven't.

Several Americans families would have no business if we stopped going to war. Many in America have become rich off of those eighteen year old Americans that we have sent to other countries to die.

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