As Americans celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, we honor all those who served and paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom.
This year, we find ourselves fighting a different kind of war. It’s most certainly a world war, but one very different from the last.
From its start in 1939 to its end in 1945, World War II would claim the lives of between 70 and 85 million people. At a pre-war population of 2.3 billion, that’s more than 3% of the world wiped out in six years. Over two thirds of these deaths were civilians.
The numbers are mind-numbing and hard to comprehend…
- 26 million deaths in the Soviet Union, 13.7% of its population.
- 20 million deaths in China, 3.9% of its population.
- 7 million deaths in Germany/Austria, over 8% of its population.
- Nearly 6 million Jewish deaths, over 50% of its pre-war European population.
- 3 million deaths in Japan, over 4% of its population.
In the US, more than 400,000 soldiers gave their lives. Nearly 30,000 of these deaths occurred in France during the Battle of Normandy, which began with D-day on June 6, 1944 and continued for another 84 deadly days.
The allies would ultimately prevail in September of 1945, but not before millions more perished.
It was a terrible war, the deadliest in history, with mass genocide, massacres, bombings, starvation and disease.
Man fighting fellow man to the death, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
In 2020, we are faced with a scourge that has hit the entire world much like World War II did 80 years ago.
But this time, thankfully, the world is largely at peace. And instead of man fighting man, we are doing our best to help one another get through this time of crisis.
This includes a sharing of information and resources from country to country that was never before possible, including novel treatments, vaccine trials, testing/tracing methods, and the best social distancing practices to help slow the spread.
COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of at least 340,000 people around the world, or .004% of the world’s population (7.8 billion). That number is sadly going to continue to increase in the months ahead.
But it will not destroy us. Far from it. With man helping its follow man to fight a common enemy we will prevail and the lessons learned and sacrifices made will ultimately make us stronger.
This Memorial Day I’m grateful that this is not a war fought with bombs and guns but instead with human ingenuity and grit, of which we have ample supply.
In choosing between war and peace, there is no choice.
I wish you and your families a peaceful Memorial Day.