Who Is the Closest Person You’ve Lost in an American War?

Memorial Day is our annual sacred remembrance of those who’ve died in an American war.  We often confuse it with Veterans’ Day or even the Fourth of July.  Some call it the unofficial beginning of summer.  Others take advantage of car sales.

But it is indeed a sacred day.  I asked HH if he knew anyone personally who had actually died in an American war and the closest he could come up with was the older brother of a high school friend who died in Vietnam.

As for me, I know many veterans who have fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and even World Ward II (Thank you Uncle John.)  But the closest thing I have to a personal relative or friend – or even the relative of a friend – who died in war was Samuel Edmiston who died at Antietam and he wasn’t even fighting for the Americans. Needless to say, I didn’t know him personally.

Who is the closest person you’ve lost in an American war?  What’s their first and last name?

I wonder if one of the many divides in our nation – the divide between military families and non-military families – has to do with privilege.  Enlisted people tend to have high school school diplomas and some college, but “fewer than one-in-ten enlisted personnel (7%) have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 19% of all adults ages 18 to 44” according to this 2017 Pew study.

Both officers and enlisted people die in war of course, but enlisted personnel are more likely to die because their lack of education gives them fewer opportunities to serve away from the front lines.  This article claims that military recruiters specifically target poor and middle class high school students for enlistment, going to so far to say that “the Military views poor kids as fodder for its forever wars.

Most of my family and friends are well-educated, financially comfortable White people.  We are dripping with all kinds of priviledge.  And I wonder if there is a correlation between this fact and the fact that I have not known a single person who died in a U.S. war.

How about you?

We thank God today for the honorable sacrifices that so many have made defending the United States.  One of those sacrifices was made by Army Private First Class Dan Bullock who died at the age of 15 in Vietnam.  He wanted to join the Army so badly that he altered his birth records.  He was born in Goldsboro, N.C.  Our hearts are filled as we remember these people today whether we know them by name or not.


3 responses to “Who Is the Closest Person You’ve Lost in an American War?

  1. Jan, I found this a really helpful reflection. Thanks for getting us to a deeper (?) level on Memorial Day, and for the TNR link.


  2. Thank you Jan for helping to put this in perspective of the bigger picture. I remember wearing a silver POW bracelet in my youth. I’ve lost track of it, but I often wonder what happened to that person.
    Peace and grace.


  3. Suzanne Weston

    Had an uncle, Boyce Ellington, that died in France in WWII. My mom still remembers him every year on this day!


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