Memorial Day is just around the corner; it’s the federal holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. There will be ceremonies and speeches in their honor, and the entertainment industry will be replaying all the great movies about America’s service-men and service-women.
Memorial Day is always a mixture of sadness, pride, and remembrance, but the harsh truth is that we can do nothing for the dead, they are gone and, unfortunately, we too often forget the wounded. Although a larger proportion of seriously wounded personnel now survive than previously, many still suffer grave long-term physical, neurological, and/or psychological injuries. The scant number of memorials to the wounded are a terrible oversight.
Besides the monuments and movies there are better memorials, living memorials, to dead and wounded – their families. If we really want to show our appreciation for the sacrifices of those service members the best way to do so is to care for those living memorials, especially the children.
Sure, there are death benefits, disability payments, and medical care, but money does not buy everything and it certainly can’t replace a functioning loving parent or guardian. More than other groups, members of the armed forces are exposed to danger, lose their lives, or suffer life-changing wounds during the prime of their lives when they are just starting or rearing a young family.
The federal government should design and implement a comprehensive program designed, specifically, to nurture and maintain those living memorials by giving them the best start on life and support possible during their formative years culminating in free tuition to any accredited public institution of higher learning for which they qualify or extensive financial aid for private institutions. It will not cure all the ills brought about by the death or serious wounding of a parent or guardian, but it’s a start and no group deserves it more.