Memorial Day ought to serve as an important reminder that we should never forget. The sacrifices made in our name in these wars deserve more than merely remembrances so the least we could do as citizens is to commemorate them. The acts of valor on our behalf in these foreign theaters represent the best of the human spirit. The altruistic heroism that our troops displayed in these conflicts is worthy of a great nation. Few individuals exhibited such exceptionality as valiantly as Emil Kapaun and Robert Miller, veterans of our so-called 'forgotten wars.' Kapaun and Miller served in Korea and Afghanistan, respectively. The courage of character demonstrated by both of these individuals is remarkable. In Korea, Kapaun heroically helped save the lives of fellow soldiers wounded in an onslaught of attacks from 20,000 Chinese soldiers and though he survived the initial attacks, he ultimately died in his confinement as a POW. In Afghanistan, Miller put himself literally at the forefront of a fight against insurgents along the country's dangerous border with Pakistan and consequently saved his commander's life while sacrificing his own as he fired at enemy forces. These men paid the ultimate sacrifice for the country they loved so dearly. In the end, their bravery did not go unnoticed. President Obama posthumously awarded both Miller and Kapaun the prestigious Medal of Honor, in 2010 and 2013, respectively.
When we celebrate an important holiday this weekend, we'll inevitably be enjoying the time spent with family, the burgers on the grill, and the (hopefully) sunny summer weather. However, we should also at least pause to remember Americans like Miller and Kapaun. Though they are the veterans of conflicts unfortunately dubbed "forgotten wars," their sacrifices, and those of millions of other Americans killed in combat, should never be forgotten. For the sake of our liberty and prosperity, they chose to promote good, to fight for their country against forces that wished to do it harm, and to give their lives for a cause greater than themselves. At the very least, we owe them our remembrance on Memorial Day. At best, we owe them an undying commitment to continually perfect the nation they loved so much they gave their lives for it.
Here are the links to the White House ceremonies where President Obama awarded Emil Kapaun and Robert Miller the Medal of Honor; in these videos, the President describes Kapaun and Miller's stories in detail: