Why a Memorial Day?

You might think this long weekend is nice to have a day off from work, or enjoy getting together with friends or family. This Monday, May 30th, is a patriotic holiday intended to honor Americans who have served and protected our country, and made the ultimate sacrifice. It commemorates the sacrifice of thousands of people who gave their life for the continuation of this country and it’s freedom, and coming to the aid of other countries trying to do the same. 

fort-sumter-civil-war

Confederate attack on Fort Sumter began the Civil War

The Civil war, which began on April 12, 1861 and ended June 2, 1865, was our bloodiest conflict. Approximately 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War. Since then just over 644,000 American combatants have died in all other combined wars.

casualties-by-war

American combatant casulaties of war

The Americans who rest beneath these beautiful hills, and in sacred ground across our country and around the world, they are why our nation endures. Each simple stone marker, arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay, but it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay. By remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice. – President Barack Obama

About 5,000 people will attend a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery this weekend. This national cemetery, sitting on 624 acres is located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington DC.

About 30 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery every weekday.

If you haven’t served in the military, why should you care? About 99.5 percent of the population never serves in the military, for many it’s difficult to understand what it means to be willing to lay down your life for people who you will never meet. People serving in the military aren’t going in for some of the reasons expressed by politicians or people who make the 6 o’clock news.

MCB Twentynine PalmsWhat separates the military from the rest of the population? These are the people who know it’s necessary to work toward common goals, prepare and sometimes when called upon, defend what they believe in. They do the work instead of whining and hoping someone else will do what has to be done. Sure, people in the military complain, but those who do their job, make the sacrifices required, keep the United States ready to meet the constant threats throughout the world.

Some think we should not be the world’s policeman, but if that role isn’t performed, who will stand up to the despots, megalomaniacs, tyrants and terrorists of the world? Many smaller countries enjoy a good standard of living because they don’t have to pay for their security with the blood and treasure of their own people.

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it. ~ Robert E. Lee – General Confederate States of America


There is no glory in war, only in Hollywood.

There are many great speeches. Impressive writers. Many beautiful people. Terrific entertainers. Marvelous designers. These attributes don’t buy your freedom. A man or woman serving as a soldier, airman, sailor, or marine, paid for that freedom. Thousands have paid the ultimate price for your liberty. Perhaps you can take a few moments of your time and be thankful for those who did what you wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t do. If you see an active duty military person today, you can thank them for what they do.

Struggling to help others. A Navy corpsman story.

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Vietnam War Statistics

Personnel

  • 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (5 August 1965-7 May 1975)
  • 8,744,000 personnel were on active duty during the war (5 August 1964-28
    March 1973)
  • 3,403,100 (including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the SE Asia
    Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand and sailors
    in adjacent South China Sea waters).
  • 2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam
    ( 1 January 1965 – 28 March 1973)
  • Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964
  • Of the 2.6 million, between 1 and 1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in
    combat, provided close combat support or were at least fairly regularly
    exposed to enemy attack.
  • 7,484 women served in Vietnam, of whom 6,250 or 83.5% were nurses.
  • Peak troop strength in Vietnam was 543,482, on 30 April 1969.

Casualties:

  • Hostile deaths: 47,359
  • Non-hostile deaths: 10,797
  • Total: 58,156 (including men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties).
  • Severely disabled: 75,000, 23,214 were classified 100% disabled. 5,283 lost
    limbs, 1,081 sustained multiple amputations. Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than in Korea. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.
  • MIA: 2,338
  • POW: 766, of whom 114 died in captivity.
  • Draftees vs. volunteers: 25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII)
    Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam.
  • Reservists KIA: 5,977
  • National Guard: 6,140 served; 101 died.

Ethnic background:

  • 88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian, 10.6%
    (275,000) were black, 1.0% belonged to other races
  • 86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (including Hispanics)
    12.5% (7,241) were black.
    1.2% belonged to other races
  • 170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2%) of whom died there.
  • 86.8% of the men who were KIA were Caucasian
    12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races.
    14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were black
    34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms.
  • Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam when the percentage
    of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the population.

Socioeconomic status:

  • 76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working
    class backgrounds
  • 75% had family incomes above the poverty level.
  • 23% had fathers with professional, managerial, or technical occupations.
  • 79% of the men who served in ‘Nam had a high school education or better.
  • 63% of Korean vets had completed high school upon separation from the service)

Age & Honorable Service:

  • The average age of the G.I. in ‘Nam was 19 (26 for WWII) 97% of Vietnam era vets were honorably discharged.

Pride in Service:

  • 91% of veterans of actual combat and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country. 66% of Vietnam veterans say they would serve again, if called upon. 87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.
  • Helicopter crew deaths accounted for 10% of ALL Vietnam deaths. Helicopter losses during Lam Son 719 (a mere two months) accounted for 10% of all helicopter losses from 1961-1975.

Winning & Losing:

  • 82% of veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of a lack of political will. Nearly 75% of the general public (in 1993) agreed with that.

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