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Orange, arise
Orange County must deliver a message Monday night

 Two veterans of a war that killed an estimated 623,000 Americans shake hands at a reunion at Gettysburg.
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Date published: 7/24/2009

IN 1969, two Los Angeles coeds formulated the idea of distributing metal bracelets as a way to remember American prisoners and GIs missing in action during the Vietnam War. Each bracelet bore the name of a single POW/MIA, and those who donned one did so with the understanding that they would wear it until "their" serviceman came home or was confirmed dead. More than 1,700 Americans who fought in Vietnam remain unaccounted for. As time passed and hope for resolution of their fates all but died, the bracelets began to disappear. But even 20 years after the war ended, a few Americans continued to wear theirs; surely some still do.

Long before Vietnam, at the end of the American Civil War, the sides exchanged prisoners, but still the whereabouts of thousands of Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs were unknown. Some would stay that way. They had died at places such as the Wilderness, blown to bits by artillery shells or charred beyond recognition in the fires that swept that brush-thick battlefield. "And some there be"--Shelby Foote quotes Ecclesiasticus to introduce his magnificent "The Civil War: A Narrative"--"which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born."


To remember in spirit those unrememberable in specifics is one reason governments set aside battlefields as inviolable memorials. Another is to certify beyond argument something profound happened here. Normandy. Shiloh. The Alamo. Bunker Hill. Thermopylae. Verdun. Pause and reflect, because you would live in a different kind of world without the sacrifices made on this ground.

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