My father-in-law (Air Force), my son (ARMY) and my dad (USMC) all served overseas. They made it back safely, but many others did not. Memorial Day is about honoring those fallen soldiers who lost their lives in service to our country. (Veterans Day honors all military veterans living and dead; Memorial Day pays solemn tribute to those who died in service.)
It was originally known as Decoration Day and honored those who died in the Civil War. History.com points out that the Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in US history, requiring the establishment of the countries first national cemeteries. After World War I, the holiday expanded to honor all soldiers who had fallen in battle.
- American Revolution: approx. 25,000
- War of 1812: 2260 killed in action, plus 17,000 from disease.
- Indian Wars: est. 1000
- Mexican War: 13,283
- Civil War: approx. 625,000. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half these deaths were caused by disease.
- Spanish-American War: 2,446
- WW I: 116,516
- WW II: 405,399
- Korean War: 36,574
- Vietnam War: 90,220
- Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 1948
- Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,442
- Operation New Dawn: 66
- Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: 2,227 as of May 21, 2013
Total Deaths 1,343,381 Soldiers
The total does not include soldiers who were wounded in battle which is equal to or greater than the number of deaths. It also does not include soldiers returning with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. According to one source, the number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll.
These men and women laid down their lives for our freedom. Let’s remember them!
Even though Memorial Day is a day to honor those who died, every day we can honor the military who have returned or are currently serving. Remember to pray for them and their families. Shake their hand and tell them, “Thank you for your sacrifice and service!”
“Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).