(Story and photos by Butch Meriwether)
Monday, May 29 is Memorial Day and many who are enjoying the time off from work and school are unaware of exactly why the holiday is so important to our country. Memorial Day honors members of the military who died in service to their country or as a result of battlefield injuries and hostile actions.
(An M-1 rifle, military helmet and combat boots representing a fallen soldier stand as a silent Memorial Day tribute adjacent to Kingman’s Veterans’ Memorial Park.)
It has been conservatively estimated that at least 587,982 military personnel have died as a result of hostile action during conflicts and wars the U.S. was involved in. A hostile casualty is a person who is the victim of a terrorist activity or who becomes a casualty in combat action. The aforementioned figure includes deaths for:
- American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) – 4,435.
- War of 1812 (1812 – 1815) – 2,260.
- Mexican War (1846 – 1848) – 13,283 of which 1,733 were combat related.
- Civil War (1861 – 1865 – Union Troops) -364,511 of which 140,414 were combat related.
- Civil War (1861 – 1865 – Confederate Troops) authoritative statistics for the Confederate forces are not available. It is estimated that the number of Americans who served with the Confederate Forces range from 600,000 to 1,500,000. The final report of the Provost Marshal General, 1863-1865, indicates 133,821Confederate deaths (74,524 battle and 59,297 other) based upon incomplete information. In addition, an estimated 26,000 to 31,000 Confederate personnel died in Union prisons.
- Spanish-American War (1898 – 1901) – 2,446 of which 385 were combat related.
- WWI – 116,516 of which 63,114 were combat related.
- WWII (1941 – 1946) – 405,399 of which 291,557 were combat related.
- Korean Conflict (1950 – 1953) – 36,574 of which 33,739 were combat related.
- Vietnam Conflict (1960 – 1973) – 58,220 of which 47,434 were combat related.
- Iranian Rescue Mission (April 25, 1980) – eight died, but are not actually direct combat related.
- Lebanon Peacekeeping (Aug. 25, 1982 – Feb., 26, 1984) – 265 of which 256 were combat related.
- Urgent Fury, Grenada (1983) – 19 of which 18 were combat related.
- Just Cause, Panama (1989) – 23 were combat related.
- Persian Gulf War (1990 – 1991) – Desert Shield and Desert Storm – 383 of which 148 were combat related.
- Restore Hope and Unosom-Somalia (1992 – 1994) – 43 of which 29 were combat related.
- Uphold Democracy, Haiti (1994 -1996) – four died, but not actually from direct combat related.
- Iraq War (2003 – 2011) and Iraq Civil War (2014 – present) – 4,411 died during Operation Iraqi Freedom of which 3,481 were combat related.
- Operation New Dawn (2010 – 2011) – 73 died of which were 38 were combat related. Operation New Dawn includes the Arabian Sea, Bahrain, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia and Arab Emirates.
- Islamic terrorists’ three-pronged aircraft attack on the United States (Sept. 11, 2011) – causing the deaths of about 3,000 people of which 55 military personnel died in the attack on the Pentagon.
- Afghan War (2001 – 2014) – 2,215 of which 1,832 died as a result of being combat related during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan only).
- Operation Enduring Freedom (2001 – 2014 – other locations) – 130 died of which 11 were combat related. The locations include Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
- Operation Inherent Resolve (2014 to present – figures as of May 3, 2016) – 17 died of which were combat related. The locations include Bahrain, Cypress, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25° Longitude, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. It is the U.S. military operation name for the military targeted airstrikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015 to present – figures as of May 18, 2017) – 35 died of which 22 were combat related. Operation Enduring Freedom ended on Dec. 31, 2014 and transitioned to Operation Freedom’s Sentinel on Jan. 1, 2015.
Sadly, according to Mohave County, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City and Kingman government officials, they do not have any planned ceremonies for Memorial Day.
The Vietnam Veterans of America will have a remembrance celebration from 9 – 10 a.m., May 29, at Veterans Park (adjacent to Railroad Park) in Old Town Kingman, and all residents and their families are invited to attend.
Many VFWs, American Legions, military fraternal, and other fraternal and civilian organizations throughout Mohave County will be conducting ceremonies for Memorial Day. People interested in attending a Memorial Day celebration, should contact their town officials, local military fraternal, and other fraternal and civilian organizations to see what they might have scheduled.
Remember what the true reason for Memorial Day is and reflect upon those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Take the time to research Memorial Day, and if someone says they don’t know why it is a national holiday, take the time to explain exactly why it is so important to our country and the American people.