Memorial Day weekend is here again, a time when many people prepare for a nice long weekend. Some gather with family and friends for a big barbecue or picnic and yet others take part in parades and sporting events. But the real reason to observe Memorial Day is to honor all of the United States men and women who have died in the military.
Each year I cover a very touching service that our local veterans hold near this beautiful concrete arch. It really makes me appreciate what our soldiers do for us each and every day, especially now when so many of them are in Iraq. Memorial Day always makes me reflect on my own mortality. It seems like yesterday when I was having my stroke and praying I would survive it. I was one of the lucky ones. So many others are not.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and has been for years. About 700,000 strokes occur in the United States each year. About 500,000 of these strokes are first or new strokes, while the other 200,000 occur in people who have already had a stroke before. More than 160,000 people die each year from stroke in the U.S. I have talked and written about these statistics before and sometimes they just seem like numbers, but really think about it. One-hundred-sixty-THOUSAND people die from stroke each year--that's a lot of people. And if they don’t die, there is a possibility that they are left disabled. In fact, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.
I know there are great strides being done to prevent stroke. Prevention is truly the key. If we can all maintain a healthy diet, exercise, keep our diabetes and blood pressure in check, that’s half the battle. The other half of the battle is to know the signs of stroke. Realize that numbness, trouble speaking, dizziness or headache can be sure signs that you are having a stroke.
This year I will be attending the arch ceremony, not covering it. It will be the first time in a long time that I have actually taken the holiday off from work. Instead, I will spend it with my family perhaps cooking out, but I will also remember all those service men and women who have died. It is because of them that we are free. I will also take a moment to remember all of the stroke victims who have died and continue in my quest to get the word out about this deadly disease. Hopefully, by working together, we can bring these huge numbers down and honor more survivors instead of victims.
Published On: May 27, 2008