For years on this national holiday, I have posted a list of the number of men and women in the military services who were killed during each of the wars in which the United States has been involved. My sources are U.S. Army Military History Institute, iCasualties.org, and Wikipedia.
In its first 100 years of existence, over 683,000 Americans lost their lives, with the Civil War accounting for 623,026 of that total (91.2%). Comparatively, in the next 100 years, an additional 626,000 Americans died through two World Wars and several more regional conflicts (World War Two representing 65% of that total). Using this comparison, the Civil War is probably the most costly war that America has ever fought.
To obtain a specific number for each of the wars, I suggest that you consult one or more of the sources. In some instances, such as the War for Independence (25,000), the total is a best estimate.
This year, we again remember these men and women — as we should — and I suggest that we also remember their family members who shared what was indeed “the ultimate sacrifice” for them, also. Presumably this is what President Abraham Lincoln had in mind at when speaking at the cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863:
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
When I think of those who have perished while serving their country and of their families who suffered so much for that loss, on this day and on Memorial Day, I am again reminded of a passage from the Old Testament, Numbers 6:24-26, one that I now presume to rephrase only slightly:
“The Lord bless them and keep them;
May the Lord make His face shine upon them,
And be gracious to them;
And may the Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon them,
And give them peace.”