It's always been that way. Even during the Revolutionary War, which started with the Boston Massacre, there was little public regard for those who put themselves in harm's way and lost their lives.
“Good God, are the Americans all asleep and tamely giving up their Liberties?” asked Benedict Arnold, who ultimately sold out himself in bitterness as much as greed.
The very first American to give his life in the cause of liberty was Crispus Attucks. His father was an African-American slave. His mother was a Natick, who were called the "Praying Indians." Little is known about Crispus. But his and the lives of so many who made the ultimate sacrifice are summed up in the immortal words of Archibald MacLeish.
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.
First published Memorial Day, 2016