Terry Paulson

Unfortunately, war is sometimes the answer. When it is, soldiers die. On Memorial Day and every day, it's our job as citizens to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price to keep us free.

Since the War of Independence started in 1776 over 650,000 men and women have lost their lives in battle to secure our independence, protect our country, preserve our union and protect the freedoms of countries throughout the world. More than half a million additional soldiers have died in service outside the theater of war. They died servicing us! Among those honored, today we remember.

American Revolution battle deaths.4,435

War of 1812. 2,260

Indian Wars.1,000

Mexican War.1,733

Civil War.140,414

Spanish-American War.385

World War I.53,402

World War II.291,557

Korean War.33,741

Vietnam War.47,424

Gulf War.147

Global War on Terror.4,278 as of April 23, 2009.

As a free country, we will and should continue to argue over when and where the choice to go to war is worth that cost. But today we honor those who have died to preserve our freedom to disagree!

But listing numbers of the dead is somehow inadequate. It wasn't until we saw the pictures and read the letters that adorned the black iron fence in front of St. Paul's Chapel across from the Twin Towers, that the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attack hit us full force. We saw the hundreds of faces and read the messages from loved ones reaching out to those who were no longer with us.

In World War II, over 400,000 American soldiers were lost in and out of the theater of war. Seeing the rows and rows of grave stones in Normandy, in Arlington Cemetery or in the Los Angeles National Cemetery can begin to demonstrate the enormity of that loss. But it has been the books and movies about the "greatest generation" and our most costly war that has brought our tears to the surface.

Whether it was the dramatic and fictional "Saving Private Ryan" or the true story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division chronicled in the acclaimed HBO mini-series, "Band of Brothers," the realistic portrayal of what it took to preserve freedom touches us still.

As our Global War on Terror continues and promises to intensify as we shift our focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, let us continue to remember and honor those who have given and will give their lives in serve.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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