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Thumbs , May 29

Memorial Day- Thumbs up

This may surprise you, but Memorial Day in its modern form hasn’t yet been around for 50 years. It wasn’t made a national holiday until 1971, thanks to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1968.

Memorial Day originated in the years after the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War, in the middle of the 19th century. Local versions of the day honored those who died in the Civil War; then, after World War I, it became a day to honor soldiers who died in all U.S. wars.

Today, it feels like Memorial Day has been around forever, but this Monday was only the 48th time the U.S. has collectively gotten together and set a day aside to thank those who gave their lives in defense of the country. While those soldiers are no longer with us to enjoy the day we’ve given to them, their family members no doubt appreciate seeing their sacrifices honored — as do the veterans who did not lose their lives, but know others who did.

Saying “thank you” 48 times is not enough, but no number of “thank you’s” could ever really be enough. So those of us that are here will keep the “thank you’s” coming every year for those that aren’t here any longer, and we’ll never forget what they did for us.

School shootings- Thumbs down

We have a day marked on our calendars every year for those killed in military combat. Perhaps we also need a new day for those killed in school shootings.

It’s been widely reported now that so far in 2018, there have been more deaths caused by U.S. school shootings than there have been combat deaths for members of the U.S. military. That seems impossible, especially when the country is still involved in two wars, but the numbers hold up. About a week ago, Politifact counted it all up and found 26 students killed in shootings since Jan. 1 (the number goes up to 31 if you count teachers; and we’re pretty sure teachers would appreciate being counted). There have been 13 service members killed in combat zones during the same time period.

Politifact also rightly points out how limited this comparison really is: the risk of being killed at school is still far less than the risk of being killed in a combat zone; and the first four and a half months of 2018 is a fairly arbitrary timeframe that might amount to cherry-picking the data.

But the greater point stands: When we talk about school shootings now, it’s possible to make comparisons between elementary-school hallways and desert mountainsides in Afghanistan with a straight face. That would have been unthinkable 17 years ago when the Afghanistan War began.