Presenting the Mortality Mathematics of Memorial Day.
In the American Revolution, approximately 50,000 patriots were killed or wounded. That’s a big number. But when you consider the population of the colonies at that time was approximately 4 million, it represents only 1.2% of the total population. In World War 2, America sacrificed an astounding 1 million soldiers. Which was less than 1% of the total population of 150 million. Our most grievous conflict by far was the Civil War. On the northern side, 3.2% of the total population was killed or wounded, while on the southern side, the number was probably near 10%.
Now, these numbers are based on total population (including females as well as males of non-fighting-age) so the percentage of deaths among fighting-age men is probably about 4 times higher. For example, some historians believe that, during the Civil War, 1 out of every 3 southern men of fighting age were killed or wounded. And these numbers also account only for military casualties, and don’t include the loss and suffering of citizens.
But consider this: approximately 3 million Americans have been killed or wounded in military actions in our history. Based on our current population of 300 million people, the total number of Americans who’ve ever lived is probably on the order of 1 billion. Which means that for every 1000 Americans who’ve ever lived, only 3 have given the last full measure of devotion.
So this weekend, fire up the grill. Crack open a beer. But also take a moment. And give thanks for the sacrifices of the one-third-percent.