Memorial Day: Remembering 70 U.S. Wars, Big and Small
One and a half million dead — many in wars you never heard of.
Except for mourning family members and Boy Scouts loyally placing tiny flags on veterans’ gravestones, hardly anyone knows anything about Memorial Day except that it’s a day off. It’s the saddest of the military holidays, invented after the Civil War, supposed to help us honor, or at least pause to remember, all the American dead from all our wars. That’s a lot of men and some women to remember going back, well, how far?
Big and small, we’ve “done” about 70 wars starting with the mid-18th century so-called French and Indian wars where George Washington was blooded and when we got our first taste of industrially massacring Native Americans, mainly Ojibwas and Algonquins who sided with the French against our British masters.
Before penicillin, it’s hard to get an accurate sum total figure of all those combat deaths because so many men died of disease and what was later called shell shock.