Ladies and Gentlemen,

Memorial Day isnít just a day for parades and fun and festivities. Itís a day to remember those who have died while defending our Stars and Stripes.

Before Memorial Day became the day to compare notes about beach traffic, to open the pool, to catch the first summer sales, it was the day to remember those who died while in the nation's service. It was originally called Decoration Day. And while the origins of customs like this are always disputed, it seems pretty clear that the custom of setting aside a day to honor the nation's war dead started in the 1860s, around the time of the Civil War.

Maybe the families started it. Maybe it was those once-removed, who wanted to find a way to show their respect and gratitude for the sacrifice made by the few for the sake of the many. Interesting that this day of commemoration is rooted in a time of such division. Even now there is the inevitable tension and distance between the two meanings of the day: on the one hand, those who just want and need a day to relax, and those who want and need a day to mourn. There's a human need for both Ė for refreshment and celebration, for pause and remembrance.

But it seems fitting that those who are not carrying the burden of grief should pause to remember those who do.

So, to the men and women who are serving around the world, to the families who support them, I thank you.

The real meaning of Memorial Day is to remember those who have paid the ultimate price in defense of their country.

Please take a moment to watch this video.

As normal, I'm going to give you some Intel:

The following is a listing of US casualties in the various conflicts that have been a part of the country's history. The numbers reflect only reported war deaths and exclude those wounded and/or missing. The Civil War still maintains the highest American casualty total of any conflict. Interesting to note the staggering number of losses in World War 2 when compared to that of World War 1 - the former being the so-called "War to End All Wars". Then there's the "Forgotten War" in Korea - this nickname despite the near-37,000 reported casualties in the conflict.

In it's first 100 years of existence, over 683,000 Americans lost their lives, with the Civil War accounting for 623,026 of that total 91.2%. Comparatively, in the next 100 years, a further 626,000 Americans died through two grand World Wars and several more localized conflicts World War 2 representing 65% of that total. Using this comparison, the Civil War might very well be the most important war that America has ever fought.

To date, over 1,322,046 Americans have died when answering The Call at all four corners of the world.


Revolutionary War 1775-1783 25,000
Northwest Indian War 1785-1795 ~1,056
Quasi-War 1798-1800 512
Barbary Wars 1801-1815 35
Other actions against pirates 1800-1900 194
Chesapeake-Leopard Affair 1807 3
War of 1812 1812-1815 20,000
Marquesas Expedition 1813-1814 4
Second Barbary War 1815 4
1st Seminole War 1817-1818 36
First Sumatran Expedition 1832 2
Black Hawk War 1832 305
2nd Seminole War 1835-1842 1,535
Mexican-American War 1846-1848 13,283
Cayuse War 1847-1856 41
Rogue River Wars 1851-1856 196
Yakima War 1855-1856 34
3rd Seminole War 1855-1858 26
Coeru d'Alene War 1858 36
Civil War 1861-1865 ~625,000
Dakota War of 1862 1862 70-113
Shimonoseki Straits 1863 4-5
Snake Indian War 1864-1868 30
Indian Wars 1865-1898 919
Red Cloud's War 1866-1868 126
Korea Shinmiyangyo 1871 3
Modoc War 1872-1873 56
Great Sioux War 1875-1877 314
Nez Perce War 1877 134
Bannock War 1878 12
Ute War 1879 15
Sheepeater Indian War 1879 1
Samoan Crisis 1887-1889 62
Ghost Dance War 1890-1891 35
Sugar Point Pillager Band of Chippewa 1898 7
Spanish-American War 1898 2,446
Philippine War 1898-1902 4,196
Boxer Rebellion 1900-1901 131
Santo Domingo Affair 1904 1
Mexican Revolution 1914-1919 35
Haiti Occupation 1915-1934 148
World War 1 1917-1918 116,708
North Russia Campaign 1918-1920 424
American Exp. Force Siberia 1918-1920 328
Nicaragua Occupation 1927-1933 48
World War 2 1941-1945 407,316
Greek Civil War 1944-1949 6
Chinese Civil War 1945-1950 164
Berlin Blockade 1947-1991 32
USSR Cold War 1948-1949 31
China Cold War 1950-1972 16
Korean War 1950-1953 36,914
1958 Lebanon Crisis 1958 6
Bay of Pigs Invasion 1961 4
Vietnam War 1964-1975 58,209
Dominican Republic 1965-1966 47
USS Liberty incident 1967 34
Iran 1980 8
El Salvador 1980-1992 37
Beirut 1982-1984 266
Invasion of Grenada 1983 19
1986 Bombing of Libya 1986 2
Persian Gulf Support 1987-1988 39
Invasion of Panama 1989 40
Persian Gulf War 1991 269
Operation Provide Comfort 1991-1996 19
Somalia 1992-1993 43
Haiti 1994-1995 4
Colombia 1994-Present 8
Bosnia-Herzegovina 1995 12
NATO Air Campaign Yugoslavia 1999 20
Afghanistan 2001-Present 1,893
Iraqi 2003-Present 4,501

US Memorial Day
Veterans Affairs
Memorial Day Foundation

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