Kingman Column: What we are remembering
Memorial Day is Monday, and many who are enjoying the time off from work aren't aware of exactly why the holiday 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.
The most recent example of why we should pay homage on Memorial Day is Army Sergeant Brian Walker, who paid the ultimate sacrifice when his life was cut short while serving our great nation in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Walker, a native of Lucerne Valley, Calif., died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was hit by an improvised explosive device, killing him and Private First Class Richard L. McNulty, 22, of Rolla, Mo., and wounding three other soldiers.
The 25-year-old Walker, who was married to Kingman High graduate Ashley Caswell-Walker, had planned on residing in Kingman after his combat tour of duty in Afghanistan was completed.
There have been numerous discussions about what battle or war caused the most casualties and deaths of American citizens and I would venture to say that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, actually caused more deaths. No, I am not attempting to lessen the Islamic terrorists' three-pronged aircraft attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2011 that caused the deaths of about 3,000 people, but am only saying there was also another attack on our soil that ultimately caused the deaths of more Americans.
Yes, the initial attack by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, only killed 2,008 U.S. Navy personnel, 109 U.S. Marines, 218 U.S. Army and 68 civilians - a total of 2,403. Close to two-thirds of them died in the first 15 minutes of the battle when the U.S.S. Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona battleships were bombed. An additional 1,178 Americans were wounded during the initial attack.
The United States involvement, other than the time spent supplying our allies prior to Dec. 8, 1941, lasted until Aug. 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered to end the war. The United States' actual fighting was only for a total of 1,347 days, and when the war ended more than 400,000 Americans lost their lives.
There are other dates we celebrate or remember events and incidents that have impacted our lives, but the one celebrated by all is Memorial Day. I'm only going to mention a few others, but I won't have them in any particular chronological order.
About 7,200 Americans died in battle during the eight-year American Revolutionary War that is also known as the American War of Independence from 1775 through 1783. Another 10,000 died from disease or exposure and about 8,500 died in British prisons, for a total of 25,700 American deaths.
Another date we used to honor was called Armistice Day and that used to fall on Nov. 11, the celebration of end of World War I in 1918. World War I was deemed the war to stop all wars. Boy, did they get that wrong. All you have to do is think about all the other wars and conflicts our nation has been involved in since then and what is currently occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On April 16, 1917, the United States officially entered World War I. Our actual combat involvement was about 604 days and it is estimated that 405,000 Americans died; 275,000 were combat-related, and 130,000 non-combat deaths.
A couple of military engagements the United States was involved in are not even deemed wars. They are the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam Conflict, but if you ask anyone who served in either of the two, they'll say they were a war and will tell you war is Hell.
The Korean Conflict lasted about 1,127 days with more than 192,000 American casualties, which included 33,741 (military and civilians) deaths.
Our country's involvement in Vietnam lasted about 5,569 days. It's estimated the average age of our military personnel serving there was only 22. There were about 58,236 American casualties, including 11,465 teenagers who died. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty, with 303,644 wounded in action.
Remember the true reason to participate in Memorial Day ceremonies 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 holiday, take the time to explain exactly why it is so important to our country.