By Dr. Stanley Watson, Syndicated Columnist
The Picayune Item
In the 11th month, the 11th day, and at the 11th hour, of the year 1918 WWI ended. In the minds of the American people, it was fought to end all wars. Unfortunately, a second world war occurred in which more than four hundred thousand soldiers died. Armistice Day was renamed "Veteran's Day" in order to pay tribute and honor all who had served in America's wars. President Eisenhower signed the bill proclaiming November 11 as Veteran's Day.
On Veteran's Day the brave souls who fought to protect our nation are honored and the values they fought for are remembered. The number of the soldiers who died in action is mind numbing and deeply depressing:
In the American Revolution, the War for Independence, 290,000 fought and 4,000 died in action.
In the War of 1812- 287,000 fought and 2,000 died in action.
In the Indian Wars- 106,000 fought and 1,000 died in action.
In the Mexican War- 79,000 fought and 13,000 died in action.
In the Civil War, The War Between the States, - 2,213,000 Union soldiers fought and 364,000 died in action. 1,000,000 Confederate soldiers fought and 133,821 died in action.
In the Spanish-American War- 392,000 fought and 11,000 died in action.
In World War I- 4,744,000 fought and 116,000 died in action.
In World War II- 16,535,000 fought and 406,000 died in action.
In the Korean Conflict- 6,807,000 fought and 55,000 died in action.
In the Vietnam Era- 9,200,000 fought and 58,148 died in action.
In the Gulf War Era- 3,800,000 fought and 9,000 died in action.
The casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan from 3-19-03 to the present amount to over 5000 dead and counting.
The Civil War was America's costliest war in loss of human life. Historian Drew Gilpin Faust writes that the deaths of the Civil War soldiers was six times that of World War II, when adjusted against the size of the American population. Faust is the president of Harvard University, where she also holds the Lincoln Professorship in History. In her recent book, “This Republic of Suffering,” she wrote:
"In the middle of the nineteenth century, the United States embarked on a new relationship with death, entering into a civil war that proved bloodier than any other conflict in American history, a war that would presage the slaughter of World War I Western Front and the global carnage of the twentieth century. The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, an estimated 620,000, is approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined.
As the new southern nation struggled for survival against a wealthier and more populous enemy, its death toll reflected the disproportionate strains on its human capital. Confederate men died at a rate three times that of their Yankee counterparts; one in five white southern men of military age did not survive the Civil War."
The Civil War decimated the South. Dr. Faust describes what happened in these words.:
"The war killed civilians .as battles raged across farm and field, as encampments of troops spread epidemic disease, as guerrillas ensnared women and even children in violence and reprisals, as draft rioters targeted innocent citizens, as shortages of food in parts of the South brought starvation. The distinguished Civil War historian James McPherson has estimated that there were fifty thousand civilian deaths during the war, and he has concluded that the overall mortality rate for the South exceeded that of any country in World War I and that of all but the region between the Rhine and the Volga in World War II."
The death of President Lincoln was tragic beyond measure for the South because he did not live to carry out his humanitarian plans for reconstruction. His counsel to the military governor of Richmond was to "let them down easy." Lincoln would not listen to a harsh word about the South, not even its leaders. When a friend once remarked to him that Jefferson Davis ought to be hung his response was a quote from the Bible-"Judge not that ye be not judged". Clearly, his plans to rebuild the nation would have looked like the kind of reconstruction America gave to Germany and Japan after WW II.
As our brave soldiers are fighting and dying in distant lands the citizens of the United States are deciding the future of the traditional family, the sacred nature of human life, religious liberty and justice for every individual. Let us pray that America's national leadership will honor the traditions of America as they plan for the future of our country. These are the principles our veterans fought for in the past and these principles remain the basis of our nation's future.
May God bless and preserve our nation.