Motorsports: Take A Moment to Remember Those Lost this Sunday

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Memorial Day weekend is the greatest weekend for race fans on the calendar, but we need to take time from the races to honor those who gave their lives for our country.

As we fire up the Bar-B-que and open a frosty beverage to get ready to watch a race this weekend, take a second to remember the ones that gave their lives in defense of this great country of ours. We are losing many of those who told of the horrors of the great wars. It os our job to remind the next generation of the sacrifices others made so we can with racing this weekend.

We will hear stories of the drivers that gave their lives at Indy during the 100th running off the Indy 500. As tragic as it is, they all knowingly took the risk of driving a racecar and knew what they were getting into. The 58,151 Americans who lost their loves in Vietnam, most of those souls that were lost, were drafted and served without choice. Same can be said of the 36,516 solders that did not make it home from Korea. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their county in wars that most saw no reason for us to be involved.

The race Memorial Day weekend for NASCAR has been run since 1960. Its first running was 15 years after the end of World War II. A war where we lost 405,399 soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen that served bravely after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The solders that did return helped start NASCAR. Red Byron, Junie Donlavey and Bud Moore come to mind among dozens of others.

When the flag is being unfurled at Charlotte Motor Speedway take a moment and tell the stories you were told by your parents and grandparents about what is called our greatest generation. About the thousands and thousands of regular people thrust into service to defend our country. Those that gave their lives on the beaches of Normandy never even firing a shot. Or the 2,403 that were killed that December 7th 1941 at Pearl Harbor on that day that will live in infamy.

Maybe you will be getting up early to watch the spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix. Take a moment to remember  the 116,516 Americans that were lost fighting over there in the war to end all wars. The horrors of trench warfare and the use of gas for the first time. There are no veterans left alive in the United States that served during in World War I. It is our responsibility to pass on the memories of family members lost during the defeat of the Kaiser on the European continent.

With all the changes in education, we must take it upon ourselves to make sure that the memories of those great men and women that made the greatest sacrifice for their country never get forgotten. We are fortunate that events like the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 gives us the chance to tell the younger generation was was done for them without their knowing. Without the knowledge of the past, we may be doomed to repeat it.

The Motorsports community is the best at reminding us about the ones that are serving this great country now abroad. The headlines about our losses in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not top of the page anymore. It is up to us to remember the 5,491 service personnel that did not make it home from these wars still going on. All those solders go to war with the stars and stripes on their uniform, but come home with it draped over their coffins.

There are the other wars that are just dates on a test long ago that need to be mentioned. The Philippine-American War we lost 4,196, the War of 1812 we lost 20,000, The Mexican-America War we lost 13,283. All Americans lost serving their country with pride an honor. We get this weekend to cheer our favorite drivers and teams because the sacrifice of the American service man and woman.

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The original Americans that made the greatest sacrifice in the Revolutionary War. Those 25,000 fighting for a country so young and eager to become something great. Then the 625,000 that were taking something great and ripping it apart. All these men and women gave their lives in wars that shaped this country and allow us to sit back and enjoy racing this glorious weekend. None of them knowing what the future would bring, but doing it for millions that would follow.

All these people gave their lives for this great country of ours. The least we can do is take a moment and make sure the next generation remembers the sacrifice of previous ones so we can enjoy our races in the greatest county on the planet.