Let us remember, this Memorial Day

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
~ John Adams ~
I know this is supposed to be a blog about political science and the graduate experience. But, I teach at a military school, so this holiday is a big deal to me. So, I hope you will forgive me a slightly off topic post. Truth be told, that quote from John Adams really says it all. Most people do not like to think about the uglier side of politics.
We see, therefore, that war is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.
~ Carl von Clausewitz ~
We, as political scientists deal with policy. As public administrators, we deal with the implementation of the policies. The military is tasked with repelling foreign intervention in the policy, or in some cases, enforcing the polices beyond our nation’s borders. It is a thankless task, which most people cannot, or will not understand. Every one of them is willing to give their life in the defense of this country. I am lucky enough to work side by side with these warriors on a daily basis, and even more fortunate to call many of them my friends. I do not know firsthand their sacrifice, but I can see the ghosts of it in their eyes.
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
~ Col Nathan Jessep in A Few Good Men ~
The men and women of the armed forces go through hell so that we can be free. They pay a price so we do not have to. Our way of life would not exist without their devotion to a cause many take for granted. Freedom is something with so dear a value that even the price required to obtain and maintain it, while great, is still minuscule when compared to its true value.
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
~ Thomas Paine ~
On this day, we honor those who have offered their lives and shed their blood so that we might be free. While we celebrate the unofficial start of summer, there are quite warriors in the field defending our way of life and risking their lives to do so. Let us pray that they return home safely. As a reminder, this is a list of causalities from conflicts throughout America’s history.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
~ Thomas Jefferson ~
CONFLICT NAME
APPROX. SPAN
CASUALTIES
War of Independence
1775-1783
25,000
Northwest Indian War
1785-1795
1,221
Quasi-War
1798-1800

20
Barbary Wars
1801-1815
35
War of 1812
1812-1815
20,000
1st Seminole War
1817-1818
30
2nd Seminole War
1835-1842
1,500
Mexican-American War
1846-1848
13,283
3rd Seminole War
1855-1858
26
Civil War
1861-1865
623,026
Indian Wars
1865-1898
919
Spanish-American War
1898
2,446
Philippine War
1898-1902
4,196
Boxer Rebellion
1900-1901
37
Mexican Revolution
1914-1919
35
Haiti Occupation
1915-1934
146
World War 1
1917-1918
116,708
World War 2
1941-1945
407,316
Korean War
1950-1953
36,914
1964-1973
58,169
El Salvador
1980-1992
20
Beirut
1982-1984
266
Persian Gulf “Support”
1987-1988
39
Invasion of Grenada
1983
19
Invasion of Panama
1989
40
Persian Gulf War
1991
269
Somalia
1992-1993
43
Bosnia
1995
12
Afghanistan
2002-2011
1,597
Iraq
2003-2011
4,454
Source: Military Factory. 

There is a veterans cemetery on my route into work every day. I took these pictures after they dropped the colors to half staff for the weekend. May we always remember. 

References:
Clausewitz, Carl von. 1873. On War. http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/OnWar1873/BK1ch01.html.
Jefferson, Thomas. 1955. Letter to William Stephens Smith. In Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, 356. http://www.bartleby.com/73/1065.html.
Military Factory. 2010. American War Deaths Through History. http://www.militaryfactory.com/american_war_deaths.asp.
Paine, Thomas. 1776. American Crisis I. http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/Paine/Crisis/Crisis-1.html.
Reiner, Rob. 1992. A Few Good Men. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104257/.
Sage, Henry J. 2010. The Era of the American Revolution. http://www.academicamerican.com/revolution/topics/introduction.htm.

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