What does 4,000 mean to you? Can you name one of the names? Or can you just spout a number? Do you put it on a t-shirt and think you have made a statement?
You do know that there are 4,000 names, lives, families, friends that correspond to the number?
4,000 - so many, and yet so few. So many since each life is precious. So few in comparison to any other war. In 36 days of fighting, 6,825 Americans were killed at Iwo Jima - an 8 sq mile uninhabited volcanic island.
4,000 - a number waited for anxiously, to be used as a club for opinion, by the completely insensitive - in fact, there were people rooting for the arrival of the number.
4,000 - For me it is so much more than a number. Two friends are part of that 4,000 - two people that I cared about - Sgt James Craig and Sgt Eddie Jeffers. Three members of my community are part of that 4,000 - PFC Thomas Tucker, LCpl Randy Newman, Sgt Zachary McBride. I have friends who are Gold Star Mothers - women who have lost their sons on battlefield, women who stand strong to support the mission that cost them their most precious gift, women who say "don't forget my son" - I won't forget LCpl Aaron Austin, Major Gregory Stone, PO2 Marc Lee - nor will I forget their mothers and fathers.
4,000 - Before you say the number, take the time to learn about one of these fine men or women - learn their name - celebrate their life - be grateful for their sacrifice.
4,000 is so much more than a number and those who use it as a number should be shamed and scorned.
4,000 noble, honorable men and women have sacrificed their lives for our country in the past five years. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay. We owe it to all of them to know at least one of their names, one of their stories.
God Bless them all.