May 23, 2007

A COST BEYOND MEASURE

By Senator Mike Crapo

FOR RELEASE CONTACT: Susan Wheeler (202) 224-5150Week of May 27, 2007 Laura Thurston Goodroe (202) 224-7500A COST BEYOND MEASUREGuest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike CrapoWhite crosses bearing the names of American military men and women symbolize the price paid by our military for our freedom. Certain cemeteries come to mind immediately: the American Military Cemetery in Normandy and, of course, veterans' cemeteries in every state. Others are not as well-known: A small cemetery outside Paris where white crosses honor many U.S. WWI dead and the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial in Madingley, England, honoring WWII casualties. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains 24 permanent American military burial grounds located primarily in France, but also Belgium, England, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, the Philippines, Mexico, the Netherlands and Tunisia. In addition to the veterans' cemeteries in Idaho, the Yellow Ribbon Campaign of Idaho established its "Field of Heroes" three years agoâ??the only Memorial Day tribute of its kind in the nation. White crossesâ??one for each U.S. casualty from Iraq and Afghanistanâ??are temporarily erected on a soccer field in Pocatello. Last year, ten Idaho POW-MIAs from the Vietnam War were added. Mark Twain once said, "In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."On Memorial Day, we honor those among us, now represented by white crosses, who are counted among the "scarce" and "brave." The cause for which they gave their lives has succeeded. It echoes along the streets we walk without fear. It echoes in the churches, synagogues and mosques where we worship freely. It echoes in the background as we speak our minds without fear of retribution by the government. Many Idahoans count military service as a proud part of their personal history. In fact, Idaho has been home to a number of Medal of Honor recipients, including Native American and Japanese American individuals. Memorial Day honors those whose lives ended on those distant battlegrounds. â?¢ According to the Idaho State Historical Society, over 1,000 Civil War veterans lived or died in Idaho. â?¢ The First Idaho Infantry, comprised of 32 officers and 644 enlisted men and mustered in Boise in May 1898, served in the Spanish-American War. After over a year in service, the unit only lost 22 to combat, combat-related wounds, disease and accidents. â?¢ In total, close to 2,200 Idaho servicemen and women perished or went missing during WWII. â?¢ 126 Idahoans died in or as a result of the Korean War.â?¢ The National Archives lists 217 Idahoans killed in Vietnam, but many place the count higher. â?¢ Idaho lost military members in the Gulf War.â?¢ Over 30 Idahoans have lost their lives in service in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past four years.It's our duty to support our military, our veterans and the families of those whose lives have been lost. Across Idaho, many will participate in events as large as memorial motorcycle rides and ceremonies at veterans' cemeteries and, equally compelling, the simple act of a family placing flowers or a wreath at the final resting place of a loved one. I will be attending some Memorial Day events in Idaho, and I look forward to honoring Idaho's fallen soldiers at these local ceremonies.On Memorial Day, we are especially mindful of those among usâ??the brave and scarceâ??who secured for us our precious freedom. It is a day to again acknowledge the price for which that freedom was purchasedâ??a cost beyond measure. WORD COUNT: 580