Honor and remember those who died

By RD Larson

No day should be complete without a thank you to the veterans who have made our country safe. Never mind the reason, the fact is that these men and women serving since 1775 have been the bulwark against the failure of the freedoms that we hold so dear. This is the most free country in the world. Sometimes we lose sight of how freedom was won.

From 1775 to 1783, we suffered 50,000 casualties and wounded soldiers in the Revolutionary War. The Mexican-American War had a loss of 17,435 dead and wounded soldiers from 1846-1848. During the Civil War, 646,000 soldiers were killed or injured.

The next big war, the Spanish American War, in which my grandfather fought, 4,068 were wounded or died. The year of that war was 1898. The Philippine War, 1898 to 1902, had a loss of 7,126 and my grandfather fought in that one, too, according to old stories but no proof.

In World War I, from 1917 to 1918, there were 320,518 casualties and wounded. My grandfather was too old to join the service and had young children. He was a late bloomer, not marrying until he was 45. When World War II, began my dad joined and that war lasted from 1941-1945 with 1,076,245 dead and wounded. Two of my husband's uncles were prisoners of war. They never spoke of it.

My dad served until 1948, serving as an attack dog trainer for the Coast Guard. The Cold War saw losses of 166 injured or killed. My husband served in that war in Germany, standing guard 3 kilometers from the Czechoslovakian border.

Vietnam, men and boys I knew, the war I watched from home: 211,454 killed and injured.

Recent wars: Gulf War, 294 deaths and 183,000 troops have been declared as permanently disabled by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Afghanistan: 2,433 and Iraq: 44,300 dead and wounded.

These losses hurt us all and we honor and remember those who died or were wounded on Memorial Day. The American Legion will have a Memorial Day ceremony at Memorial Park on Spring Street May 25.

My dad was a skinny, wiry guy. I have an old photo of my Mama wearing his Navy uniform; I can't see how she got all of herself into his uniform but she did. He must have been taking the picture because she's smiling up into that old Brownie camera. I am glad that I have that picture. It shows love, family and service to our country.

One way I honor the veterans is by serving in the American Legion Auxiliary, Post 163 Friday Harbor. Also I am honoring veterans from every war this Memorial Day and I hope you will too.

Research info:

-- RD Larson is author of "Evil Angel" (, "Mama Tried to Raise a Lady," "Saving Reverend Clayton," "Sorrow's Field," "Doors: Five Stories of Strong Women," "Marian Riles, Soft-boiled Detective" (

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