For Memorial Day 2008, Veterans for Common Sense provides several pieces of information frequently requested by our members. Here are the latest death counts from the two current wars plus all prior wars. We also provide the history behind Memorial Day plus a link to our U.S. Constitution that our service members swear an oath to protect and defend. Finally, we provide the full text of President Lincoln’s poignant Gettysburg Address, where he honored our Civil War dead after the historic battle in 1863.
Memorial Day is set aside so that we may honor our Nation’s fallen service members – fellow Americans who died protecting and defending our U.S. Constitution.
1. U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq War: 4,059, as of May 3, 2008
– Source: DoD, http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/OIF-Total.pdf
2. U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan War: 491, as of May 3, 2008
– Source: DoD, http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/WOTSUM.pdf
3. U.S. Military Deaths 1775 – to 1991:
– U.S. Military Service during Wartime: 41,891,368
– Battle Deaths: 651,022
– Other Deaths (In Theater): 308,797
– Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 230,279
– Source: VA, http://www1.va.gov/opa/fact/amwars.asp
4. History of Memorial Day from VA: http://www1.va.gov/opa/speceven/memday/history.asp#hist
5. U.S. Constitution: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html
6. President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863:
– Source: Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gadd/images/Gettysburg-2.jpg
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.