Memorial Day: “We Gave Our Today”

Happy Memorial Day! I am thankful for the many who have given their lives for my freedom. Each Memorial Day I am reminded of the succinctly poignant words of the Kohima Epitaph. For me, it embodies the spirit of this holiday.

According to the Burma Star Association,

The Kohima Epitaph

In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division moved northwestward in Burma, swept through the Naga hills, invaded India, and fell upon Imphal and Kohima. Confidently the Japanese planned to press toward the India Plains. The Allies in the CBI Theater faced a disaster of monumental proportions unless the enemy was stopped.

A crucial battle ensued at Kohima where some 2,500 British Empire troops came under siege. They fought a formidable Japanese force numbering 15,000 soldiers supported by 10,000 ammunition laden oxen. For weeks the belligerents sparred in bloody artillery duels interrupted only by hand to hand skirmishes and bayonet attacks. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back. They withdrew from Kohima. Japan’s dominance in northern Burma had begun its crumble.

Understandingly, the determination and gallantry shown by allied troops in the Kohima siege was quick to become the subject of poem, song, and legend. Today in the Kohima cemetery, among the 1,378 grave markers, is the famous Kohima Memorial with its historic inscription:

 

“When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today”

Kohima Epitaph

 

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