Crunching the Numbers for Memorial Day

The Memorial Day holiday began after the Civil War in 1868 to honor more than 600,000 men who died in that war. According to the U.S. military, the Civil War had the highest number of causalities of any American war. But here’s the thing: The U.S. is counting both sides because Americans were fighting each other. If we were to crunch all of the numbers including our enemies who died, the numbers would be much higher. For example, more than 140,000 people died in one day after the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.

Honoring Each Fallen Soildier

To commemorate our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day civic organizations place American flags next to each tombstone at every national cemetery throughout the country. Medal of Honor recipients also receive a blue flag next to their gravesite. The photos above are from Santa Fe’s National cemetery. The top photo is of my father’s tombstone, who was a WWII veteran. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe donated the land to the federal government in 1870. In 1885 the 78-acre burial ground became a national cemetery on Santa Fe’s north side adjacent to Rosario Cemetery. Close to 65,000 soldiers are buried at New Mexico’s oldest national cemetery.

Battle of Glorieta Pass

For three weeks in 1862 the Confederate Flag flew over the Santa Fe plaza. Later that month the Battle of Glorieta Pass took place in northern New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The two-day battle ended on March 28, 1862. That date has gone down in history as the “Battle of Gettysburg of the West.” The 19th century New Mexican, Captain Rafael Chacon, fought at Glorieta. Although New Mexico only played a small part in the Civil War, it provided a major turning point. With the help of the state’s volunteer army the Union soldiers gained a foothold in the war. The Santa Fe National Cemetery was created at that time to bury the Union and Confederate soldiers who died at Glorieta.

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