In Memoriam, We Pause and Give Thanks
There is no question that this is a special time of year. It is a time when we pause to give thanks in memoriam to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedom and values that define our nation. For those who have witnessed this first-hand this holiday is often hallmarked by a heavy heart as we vividly recall the individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice. For me, that involves the faces and memories of Sergeant Alan Sherman, Corporal John Todd and Lance Corporal Patrick Adle whom I served with in the United States Marine Corps, as well as hometown friend U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Michael J. Cleary.
Of course, after 11 years of war so many Americans now understand this in ways not appreciated since the greatest generation. After all, Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom have claimed 6,440 American service members. The result, almost everyone of us now knows directly, or indirectly, a father, brother, son, mother, sister or daughter who never made it home from these conflicts. Never to experience another word of affirmation, loving embrace or Memorial Day these individuals gave their lives so that our generation, and those that follow, may continue to enjoy the freedoms we have today. The corresponding number of tears associated with these deaths is countless. The lost memories, and the lifetimes of achievement never to be fulfilled, simply can’t be given a value as a life foregone for others is the definition of invaluable.
Of course, these sacrifices are never born equally by all. They are born directly by those with uncommon valor and indirectly by the loved ones who support these courageous and honorable individuals. The pain and suffering of the friends and family members of our nation’s lost warriors is the hardest part of this holiday. Helpless in preventing the final outcome that befell their loved one, they are left to recall the memories they shared and the pride they have in their loved one’s sacrifice. It goes without saying that neither of these things can ever replace the simple human touch families will continue to seek from the loved one they lost so abruptly.
According to statistics compiled by the Washington Post, this bitter anguish is one our neighbors know better than folks in other parts of the nation. These statistics show that Pennsylvania and New York have the 4th and 5th highest amount of residents who died during these wars. Collectively, residents from these states account for 553 of the 6,440 service members who perished as part of the ongoing conflicts.
While never truly avoidable, the availability of resources is a recurring theme in historical conflict. In this vein, it is comforting knowing that developing our own resources can help decrease the likelihood of future conflicts and the casualties often associated with them. Already, the development of shale resources like the Marcellus has helped significantly decrease our nation’s energy imports. A government report issued last year shows that our nation is producing record amounts of oil and natural gas, which has resulted in a reduction of United States net imports of crude oil by 10%, or 1 million barrels a day in 2010. As a result, the U.S. now imports 45% of its petroleum, down from 57% in 2008. By any measure this is a significant advance in just two years. Some studies show this is just the beginning and that energy independence, or self-sufficiency, is now achievable within our lifetimes.
We of course will never be rid of the innately human enterprise that is war. It is inevitable over time as nations and ideologies clash. However, we can pursue responsible actions that might just result in helping keep our service members at home, with their families, where they belong. One action that could help in this regard is the safe and responsible development of all of our nation’s abundant energy resources including the resources in the Marcellus Shale.
With this in mind, it is fitting that we take today to reflect on the sacrifices of others while observing that our actions, however seemingly small in comparison to this ultimate sacrifice, can make a difference in decreasing the likelihood of this sacrifice in the future. For me, and the entire EID team, this is one of the many reasons why this ongoing discussion is, and will continue to be, so important.