For the last twenty years, since I was two years old, my family’s 4th of July tradition has consisted of the same events. We first attend our neighborhood carnival, which includes the ferris wheel, the giant slide, and cotton candy. Next is our street block party with hot dogs, American flag shortbread cookies, and basketball games. Finally, the classic Flag Day event, the fireworks. For the last few years, I’ve also added a 5k or 10k race to that line-up.
While this is fun, there’s so much more to the celebration of the Union. I decided to find out how much blood those red, white, and blue decorations have cost our country. The facts are pretty astounding:
American Revolutionary War (1775-1783): 50,00 dead or wounded
War of 1812 (1812-1815): approximately 20,000 dead or wounded
Civil War (1861-1865): 750,00 dead (not including wounded)
World War I (1917-1918): 320,518 dead or wounded
World War II (1941-1945): 1,076,245 dead or wounded
Korean War (1950-1953) :128,650 dead or wounded
Vietnam War (1955-1975): 211,454 dead or wounded
War on Terror (2001-present): 57,614 dead or wounded
That’s a total of 2,614,481 soldiers who have been killed or wounded defending our country—and that’s just the big wars. I haven’t included all the Native American wars, the Spanish-American wars, or any of the other small conflicts the US has participated in since the founding of the Union. If you’re interested, the full list is here.
The end of the Declaration of Independence says this:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Here’s to the men and women who have made the Fourth of July possible.