There are in Americashire 16,470 incorporated towns and cities boasting population less than 10,000 citizens each.
The city of Houston, Minnesota, population 974 and many similar towns I have personally visited almost all have memorials like the one pictured here.
Why build these small memorials at great proportional cost to their communities when bigger, more elaborate memorials honoring our war dead and the flag under which all served and paid the ultimate price are on public view within a 2-hour drive to Minneapolis, 6 hours to Chicago, or even more distant Washington, D.C.?
My sense based on visually scanning residents whilst walking about their streets is that many cannot afford the journey, whether the price is treasure or time.
My belief is that these small cities and towns across America prioritized the building of their memorials where American, services and MIA flags snap in the cold winter wind to honor the ultimate sacrifice their young men and women made in this country’s wars is very personal.
Towns like Houston, Minnesota and others never want to forget their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and friends who died and will never again walk the streets of their home towns.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with whichever war or conflict in which these heroes fell, all answered our country’s call to service and responded to the sentiment ably expressed by John F. Kennedy who challenged all Americans to, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
I have lived in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco a cumulative total of 29 years. I believe a vast majority of these cities residents hail from somewhere else, perhaps from towns boasting populations less than 10,000 and where the citizens decided to allocate their precious treasure to building memorials to their fallen heroes.
If you live in any one of the above-mentioned big cities – Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco – or similarly large cities, I encourage you to take the time during your next driving trip to sit at a war memorial invariably located in whichever small town you might otherwise pass through. I bid you to read the plaque and attempt if for only minutes to walk in the shoes of the citizens of that town.
Residents of these small towns spread across the U.S. host a much larger proportion of our country’s population than you might have imagined, and to these fellow citizens these memorials and what they represent, remember is very personal.