It has been 100 years to the day that we first officially honored our veterans.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
888,246 lives – a cascade of terrible beauty that shocks the eye as it tugs at the heart. The number of Empire soldiers who lost their lives in the “War to End All Wars”. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was more than 38 million: there were over 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded, one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.
116,000 U.S. military lost their lives in WWI. 204,000 were wounded.
American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
2,594,000 U.S. military personnel were deployed to South Vietnam. 58,220 died, and 303,644 were wounded.
In the Gulf War, otherwise known as Operation Desert Shield, 700,000 U.S. troops served.
It is amazing to read the number of conflicts just in the 20th century, which finished with U.S. involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The 21st century has seen almost constant involvement in the Middle East, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq.
Here is a comprehensive list of all conflicts in which the United States has been involved:
Thank you to all of our veterans, living and dead, for what they have sacrificed for this country.
Many families have sent their young men to war over the years. In my own family, I can name relatives fighting in the Revolutionary War (both sides!), the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
We owe a great debt to the men and women of our military!