Memorial Day speaker pays tribute to fallen

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Alabama National Guard Col. Dan Tatum was the guest speaker at Saturday’s Memorial Day service held at the Covington Veterans Memorial Park behind Andalusia City Hall.

Tatum said Memorial Day has been at risk of becoming “just another day off work,” but thanks to programs like the one Saturday, continues to be a “single day to remember those who died in service to our nation”

Tatum said since 1866, Memorial Day has celebrated those who gave the last and full measure of lives.

“Here are some brutal facts,” he said. “In the 80 months of the Revolutionary War, there were more than 10,000 casualties and 4,400 deaths. Fifty-five Americans died in each month of the war

“In the 37 months of the Korean War, there were 136,000 casualties, and 33,000 American deaths, which means we lost 900 soldiers in each month of the war.

“In the 90 months of the Vietnam War, there 211,000 casualties and 50,000 lives lost, meaning 529 Americans died each month of the way.

“In the one month of the first Gulf War, there were 760 casualties, and 148 died.

“To date, there have been more than 400 lives lost in Iraq, and we lost our 1,000th today in Afghanistan.

“But let’s look at the big war, World War II,” Tatum said. “This was a time when good and evil contended for the world. In 48 months, there were more than 1 million casualties, and almost 300,000 American lives lost, averaging 6,200 per month.

“As you can see from the monument behind me, each town in America was impacted,” he said. “But Americans were unified.”

America lost 19,000 soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge, and 13,000 at Okinawa, most in hand-to-hand combat.

“Their courage and sacrifice knew no bounds,” he said. “The world would be a much different place than civilization as we know it if not for those sacrifices.”

France and Britain would not have survived, he said.

Time and again, he said, ordinary men and women have become extraordinary soldiers as Americans have proved themselves on the battlefield.

“It has been said, ‘Thank God, we don’t have to fight anybody like ourselves,’ he said.

“Never forget those who have gone before us,” he said. “God bless each of you and God bless the United States of America.”

AHS student Ava May, right, plays taps.