Memorial Day, 2011

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Arlington National Cemetery / Army photo

 Memorial Day is a strange holiday when so many Americans are disconnected from the wars now underway. Did you know that over the past week, more than a dozen U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan? It’s easy for me to keep track: I get Pentagon press releases every time a U.S. soldier is killed, sprinkled in among those announcing the promotions of general officers. Some days there are more KIAs than advancements, some days not.

It’s this drip-drip-drip of death that wears on you after awhile. My inbox has been filled with these for close to a decade. Plainly, the news media is weary; U.S. deaths in Afghanistan are generally relegated to news briefs, if they’re covered at all.

Every once in awhile, in addition to the deaths and promotions, there is a Pentagon release proclaiming some victory or another, like this one from last week.

Then, like Saturday, you get ones like this.

You mentally divide the emails between those announcing deaths from those detailing progress, and put each pile on opposite sides of your mental scale. Then, depending on where you sit, you watch it tilt one way or another. If you’re honest, you put a thumb on the scale and ask: would I feel the same if it were my child, my spouse, my parent?

Of course, you most likely didn’t know any of those six soldiers whose deaths were announced Saturday, amid the Memorial Day weekend. Neither did I.

Then again: they didn’t know us, either.

That is why we honor their sacrifice, and all of those like theirs, this and every Memorial Day.

P.S.: Roster of those Americans killed in combat in Afghanistan (big file); same for Iraq (huge file).