116,516 | 405,399 | 36,516 | 58,209 | 2,216 | 4,497
I know very little about numbers and even less about war. I know the average person takes 23,000 breaths a day and the moon orbits the earth every 27 days or so.
It takes the moon twenty-seven days to travel around the earth one time.
Every night, I look up at the sky. Well, most nights if I remember or the moon is particularly gorgeous. My mind knows it is orbiting, but sometimes my heart believes it pops up there every night just for me. It’s not working the tides or vital to our survival, it’s a backdrop for my bedroom window or the glow on the road as I travel home.
The reality is that despite the songs and movies, the moon’s job is not romantic at all. Twenty-seven days just to make it one time around. So many things could go wrong, and yet the moon has been making it happen for billions of years.
Same moon, same earth.
The moon doesn’t get to stay close to the oceans and people in its care. It is 238,855 miles from us and yet out there in the darkness, it doesn’t know when we celebrate, take to the beach or shovel snow.
The moon is busy, showing up in the most unromantic reaches. It never asks to be idolized or deified, and yet we still sprinkle it with glitter and call it amore.
The numbers above are the US only casualties of WWI (1917-1918), WWII (1941-1945), Korean (1950-1953), Vietnam (1955-1975), Afghanistan (2001-Present), and Iraq (2003-2011) respectively. These numbers do not include the countless other wars and conflicts that have taken thousands more.
Numbers can show the enormity of a situation, but sometimes the individual details are lost to scale.
Last year the Raid on Yemen killed one man and wounded three.
During the American Civil War, in which 750,000 people died, there were 524 deaths every day. According to my quick research, that’s 2.385% of the population at that time gone every twenty-four hours.
In World War II, 297 people died every day. Two hundred and ninety-seven people every single day for four years.
The numbers are staggering, heartbreaking and so ugly. All of these men and women doing a job, far from home. I have no doubt they were often in darkness, both literal and figurative. So many lost lives that it’s hard to imagine until you face the numbers and then it is hard to forget.
Hard to simply light up the barbecue and call it a long weekend.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is the day that we acknowledge the toll of war, the hundreds of thousands and the one. None of these men and women wanted to die. They didn’t give their lives, their lives were taken. There aren’t enough pins, brass or glitter to make that anything other than loss.
The romance is gone for them and their families. They know the moon doesn’t magically appear in their window.
Twenty-three thousand breaths of pause without fun, profit or propaganda. We should be able to manage that.
To the families who have lost a person at their table, his warm hug, or the sound of her laughter, may you find peace in your memories and love with your friends and family. To the men and women currently in harm’s way, God’s speed and be safe.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Good Night, Moon.