Remembering those who sacrificed everything is the meaning of Memorial Day

Photo courtesy of BUTCH MERIWETHER

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An M-1 rifle, military helmet and combat boots representing a fallen soldier stand as a silent Memorial Day tribute adjacent to Kingman’s Veterans Memorial Park.

Many who are enjoying the time off from work and school are unaware of exactly why Memorial Day is so important to our country.

Memorial Day honors members of the military who died in service to their country or as a result of battlefield injuries and hostile actions.

It has been conservatively estimated that at least 600,000 U.S. military personnel have died as a result of hostile action during conflicts and wars, according to infoplease.com. A hostile casualty is a person who is the victim of a terrorist activity or who becomes a casualty in combat action. The aforementioned figure includes deaths for:

• American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) – 4,435.

• War of 1812 (1812 – 1815) – 2,260.

• Mexican War (1846 – 1848) – 13,283, of which 1,733 were combat related.

• Civil War (1861 – 1865 - Union Troops) - 364,511, of which 140,414 were combat related.

• Civil War (1861 – 1865 - Confederate Troops) authoritative statistics for the Confederate forces are not available. It is estimated that the number of Americans who served with the Confederate Forces range from 600,000 to 1,500,000. The final report of the Provost Marshal General, 1863-1865, indicates 133,821 Confederate deaths (74,524 battle and 59,297 other) based upon incomplete information. In addition, an estimated 26,000 to 31,000 Confederate personnel died in Union prisons.

• Spanish-American War (1898 – 1901) – 2,446, of which 385 were combat related.

• WWI - 116,516, of which 63,114 were combat related.

• WWII (1941 – 1946) – 405,399, of which 291,557 were combat related.

• Korean Conflict (1950 – 1953) – 36,574, of which 33,739 were combat related.

• Vietnam Conflict (1960 – 1973) – 58,220, of which 47,434 were combat related.

• Iranian Rescue Mission (April 25, 1980) – eight died, but were not combat related.

• Lebanon Peacekeeping (Aug. 25, 1982 – Feb., 26, 1984) – 265, of which 256 were combat related.

• Urgent Fury, Grenada (1983) – 19, of which 18 were combat related.

• Just Cause, Panama (1989) – 23 were combat related.

• Persian Gulf War (1990 – 1991) – Desert Shield and Desert Storm – 383, of which 148 were combat related.

• Restore Hope and Unosom-Somalia (1992 – 1994) – 43, of which 29 were combat related.

• Uphold Democracy, Haiti (1994 -1996) – four died, but were not combat related.

• Iraq War (2003 – 2011) and Iraq Civil War (2014 – present) – 4,411 died during Operation Iraqi Freedom of which 3,481 were combat related.

• Operation New Dawn (2010 – 2011) - 73 died, of which 38 were combat related. Operation New Dawn includes the Arabian Sea, Bahrain, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia and Arab Emirates.

• Islamic terrorists’ three-pronged aircraft attack on the United States (Sept. 11, 2011) - causing the deaths of about 3,000 people, of which 55 military personnel died in the attack on the Pentagon.

• Afghan War (2001 – 2014) – 2,215 died, of which 1,832 died being combat related during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan only).

• Operation Enduring Freedom (2001 – 2014 – other locations) – 130 died of which 11 were combat related. The locations include Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

• Operation Inherent Resolve (2014 to present) – 41 died of which 17 were combat related. The locations include Bahrain, Cypress, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25th parallel, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. It is the U.S. military operation name for the military targeted air strikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

• Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015 to present – figures as of May 18, 2017) – 35 died, of which 22 were combat related. Operation Enduring Freedom ended on Dec. 31, 2014 and transitioned to Operation Freedom’s Sentinel on Jan. 1, 2015.

The 2017 Memorial Day program hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 975 begins at 9 a.m. Monday at the Kingman Veterans Memorial adjacent to Locomotive Park.

U.S. Air Force Chaplain Paul Pitts will perform invocation and talk about Memorial Day history.

U.S. Army veteran Jason Millin, member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Mohave County Chapter, will be a guest speaker. The Kingman Young Marines will perform color guard and the Kingman Patriot Guard Riders a flag line.

Many VFWs, American Legions, military fraternal and other fraternal and civilian organizations throughout Mohave County will be conducting ceremonies for Memorial Day. People interested in attending a Memorial Day celebration, should contact their town officials, local military fraternal and other fraternal and civilian organizations to see what they might have scheduled.

Remember what the true reason for Memorial Day is and reflect upon those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Take the time to research Memorial Day, and if someone says they don’t know why it is a national holiday, take the time to explain exactly why it is so important to our country and the American people.