This is what we do for the joy of the King,
For His peaceable Kingdom,
For a world in despair.
And this is why we bring any hope we can give,
Any bread from the table,
Any touch of His hand.
This is what we do.
This is where we go.
This is why we sing.
This is how we live.
This is who we are.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We Remember Them . . .

Memorial Day is a HOLIDAY ("holy day") in the truest sense of the word. It's holy because it is "set apart" or sanctified by the act of intentionally and respectfully remembering those who have given all that they have for others.

Anyway, I have never been a real observer of Memorial Day.  My mother's first husband died during World War II.  He's the only one in my family's circle who has ever been killed in battle. (When we were going through Mom's things after her death, we came across the flag she received at her husband's funeral.  My sister--his daughter--didn't realize Mom had that flag.  It was a very poignant moment to watch her hold and touch that old flag that had been closeted away for over 60 years.)

Maybe it was finding that flag, or getting older, or reading the Catton books on the Civil War, but somehow this year, I feel much more connected to the meaning of the holiday.

I mentioned the other day about some of the horrible statistics of the Civil War.  This morning I found the deaths/wound statistics of all battles in which Americans have been involved.  I share them with you. As we approach Memorial Day, I think it would be good to reflect on these staggering numbers and the flesh-and-blood men and women that they signify.

Battle Deaths - 4,435
Non-Mortal Woundings - 6,188

WAR OF 1812 (1812-1815):
Battle Deaths - 2,260
Non-Mortal Woundings - 4,505

MEXICAN WAR (1846-1848):
Battle Deaths - 1,733
Other Deaths in Service - 11,550
Non-Mortal Woundings - 4,152

Union Battle Deaths - 140,415
Other Deaths in Service (Union) - 224,097
Confederate Battle Deaths - 74,524
Other Deaths in Service (Confederate) - 59,297
Union Non-Mortal Woundings - 281,881
Confederate Non-Mortal Woundings - Unknown

Battle Deaths -  385
Non-Mortal Woundings -  1,662

WORLD WAR I - (1914-1918)
Battle Deaths - 53,402
Other Deaths in Service - 63,114
Non-Mortal Woundings - 204,002

WORLD WAR II - (1941-1945)
Battle Deaths - 291,557
Other Deaths in Service - 113,842
Non-Mortal Woundings - 671,846

KOREAN WAR - (1950-1953)
Battle Deaths - 33,741
Other Deaths (in theater) - 2,833
Other Deaths (not in theater) - 17,672
Non-Mortal Woundings - 103,284

VIETNAM WAR - (1964-1975)
Battle Deaths - 47,424
Other Deaths (in theater) - 10,785
Other Deaths (not in theater) - 32,000
Non-Mortal Woundings - 153,303

Battle Deaths - 147
Other Deaths (in theater) - 235
Other Deaths (not in theater) - 1,590
Non-Mortal Woundings - 467

GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR (October 2001 - Present)
Battle Deaths - 2,333*
Other Deaths (in theater) - 707*
Non-Mortal Woundings - 21,649*
(* = statistics from Department of  Veterans Affairs as of July 1, 2007)

Battle Deaths - 653,708
Other Deaths (in theaters of war) - 14,560
Other Deaths (not in theaters of war) - 525,930
Non-mortal woundings - 1,447,281
LIVING War Veterans (as of 7-1-07) - 17,835,000
LIVING Veterans (War & Peacetime) - 23,698,000

Regardless of one's view of the rightness or wrongness of our current military involvements, we are all certainly in the debt of the faithful men and women who serve us around the world. 

To those who have paid the price of freedom with their lives, we are eternally grateful.  

We will remember!


Heidi said...

Wow... That was incredible. It gave me chills! Thank you so much for sharing that...

Diane Davis said...

this might be a lame question, but what does "in theater" mean? really great pictures again, Don. I'm going to show this post to Brian, too.

Don said...

You the Kodak!

Actually, "theater of war." Where the action was. In WWII they talked about the "European Theater" and the "Pacific Theater."

In the Civil War they used the term "Campaign." Like the Peninsula Campaign or the Mississippi Campaign.

Kristi said...

thanks for those reminders....

and it was really special to watch your sister look at that flag. i'm glad i was there to see that. i always used to ask grandma stories about her first husband. it fascinated me so much....

AbiSomeone said...

Hey, Don Sewell ... I can't believe how I stumbled upon your blog ... tracking back on the Top Ten Movies meme and found your name. I thought, "Is this our Don? Can't be ... he's not an old guy!" But it is!

We have veterans all over my family, so Memorial Day is full of memories. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

What an interesting blog you have ... for an old guy! ;^)

You'll have to stop by sometime and visit me at my blog!

AbiSomeone said...

Hey. Don ... I just saw on your profile that you are a movie buff ... so you can be the third person I tag! Follow the link to see what I'm talking about!

Roni said...

Thanks for posting that, Don! It's good to stop and reflect on the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf--it brings a lump to my throat.

John & Patti said...

Hi Don,

As a Viet Nam Veteran I really appreciate this. I was a student of yours way back when @ J.B.C. John Fraizer