To many, Memorial Day is a day off work or school, a time for family parties, grilling, and fun. For some, it marks the start of summer vacation season, Let us remember why we really celebrate this holiday.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil war to commemorate fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. By the 20th century, Memorial Day was extended to include all soldiers that died while in military service.
Memorial Day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day – November 11. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, Memorial Day honors the fallen. My family has a history of military service: father, uncle, great uncle were WW II vets, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great uncles were WW I vets, cousins in Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Of those, one was lost – great uncle Robert in WW I. I will toast him today.
The United States lost many soldiers during wartime. Below is a list of the fallen in each major conflict. This does not include the unaccounted or small scale actions. Their sacrifice is no less significant than the major wars, but statistics are harder to list.
Major U.S. War U.S. Deaths
Iraq War 4,800
Gulf War 258
Vietnam War 58,209
Korean War 36,516
World War II 405,399
World War I 116,516
Civil War 625,000
American Revolutionary War 25,000
While you are happy for a day off and enjoying your burgers and beer, remember why you are celebrating. One million two hundred and seventy three thousand, nine hundred and twenty-seven won’t make the party