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Today, please remember the American heroes who died for us

During the American Revolution, an estimated 4,435 soldiers died in battle fighting for freedom from England between 1775 and 1783, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

A few short decades later, another 2,260 U.S. soldiers died fighting in the War of 1812, which lasted until 1815. A year later, the Indian Wars began, claiming an estimated 1,000 soldiers until their end in 1898.

During the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848, 1,733 battle deaths were recorded.

And then there was the record-setting and bloodiest yet – the Civil War – with an astonishing 140,414 battle deaths on the Union side and 74,524 on the Confederate side.

In the years following the Civil War, the nation set aside a day to honor those who died in battle. It was called Decoration Day.

Then came the Spanish-American War from 1898 to 1902, with 385 more battle deaths, before the great wars of the 20th century.

World War I took 53,402 American lives on the battlefield between 1917 and 1918. After, Decoration Day became Memorial Day, which we observe today to honor military members who died serving the United States in all wars.

It is appropriate that we reflect today on the American lives lost.

The losses continued to mount through the decades: 291,557 battle deaths in World War II, 1941 to 1945; 33,739 battle deaths in the Korean War, 1950 to 1953; 47,434 in the Vietnam War, 1964 to 1975; 148 battle deaths in Desert Shield/Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991; and even more during the Global War on Terror that began in 2001 and continues to this day.

That’s 651,031 battle deaths from the founding of our nation through 1991.

That’s 651,031 people who died fighting for our freedom in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

And these numbers reflect only battle deaths. Other members of the military died during these wars, though not on the battlefield. Collectively, 308,800 other deaths occurred in theater and 230,254 in service, non-theater, over the centuries.

Altogether, that’s over a million American lives given for our greater good.

The sun may shine today, hot dogs on the grill may make our mouths water, and the promise of a summer ahead may beckon.

And while we take time to appreciate these simple pleasures, we should all pause in remembrance today of those who made it possible through their ultimate sacrifice of life.

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