Historical Wars


If we forget our past, we will certainly stumble into our future. The history of the service of our country’s veterans needs to be preserved and it is a very important aspect of the design and mission of the Memorial. The design will help visitors to be reminded of the historical sacrifices made by all veterans.

If asked, veterans who have served in armed conflict would not wish our children to share this aspect of their past. It is the same with the men and women honored at this Memorial. With the weaving of history into the fabric of this Memorial, visitors will be reminded of the terrible costs of armed conflict, it is the hope of the Wilderness Veterans Memorial Flame Foundation that this memorial will cause all visitors to be moved to consider those costs before demanding such sacrifices be made by future generations.

Conflict Monuments

To accomplish the informational goals of the memorial, the design  incorporates a series of Conflict Monuments along the path leading into the center of the Memorial. These conflicts are:

American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

  • U.S. Number Serving: 184,000 to 250,000 (estimated)
  • U.S. casualties: 10,623
  • The 13 American colonies fought for independence from British rule.
  • Colonists were frustrated because Britain forced them to pay taxes, yet did not give them any representation in the British Parliament.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. -George Washington

The War of 1812 (1812-1815)

  • U.S. number serving: 286,730
  • U.S. casualties: 6,765
  • The U.S. declared war on Great Britain during its war with France.
  • The American victory at Fort McHenry near Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and is conscious that he gains protection while he gives it. -Andrew Jackson

Indian Wars (approx. 1790-1891)

  • U.S. number serving and casualties: unconfirmed
  • The series of conflicts in the western United States between Native Americans, American settlers, and the United States Army are generally known as the Indian Wars.

Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever. -Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

Mexican - American War (1846-1848)

  • U.S. number serving: 78,718
  • U.S. casualties: 17,435
  • The Mexican-American War, also known as the Mexican War, the U.S.-Mexican War or the Invasion of Mexico, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the United Mexican States from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory, despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

Brave rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel! - General Winfield Scott

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

  • Number serving:
    • Union: more than 2,100,000
    • Confederate: more than 1,000,000
  • Casualties: 
    • Union: over 646,392
    • Confederate: 164,821 (estimated)
  • The northern states and the southern states fought over slavery and states rights.

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. -Abraham Lincoln

Spanish-American War (1898-1902)

  • U.S. number serving: 306,760
  • U.S. casualties: 4,108
  • The conflict was between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba

Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood -- the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life -Theodore Roosevelt

World War I (1914-1918) (U.S. involved 1917-1918)

  • U.S. number serving: 4,734,991
  • U.S. casualties: 320,518
  • The U.S. joined the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan), who were at war with the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey), after German submarines began sinking unarmed ships in early 1917.

The history of liberty is a history of resistance. -Woodrow Wilson

World War II (1939-1946) (U.S. Mobilization 1941-1946)

  • U.S. number serving: 16,112,566
  • U.S. casualties: More than 1,000,000
  • The U.S. joined the Allies (Britain, France, and the USSR) to fight the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) after the U.S. forces were attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the wolrd are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty - loving people everywhere march with you. -Dwight D. Eisenhower

Korean War (1950-1953)

  • U.S. number serving: 5,720,000
  • U.S. casualties: 139,858
  • North Korea's Communist forces fought against South Korea's non-Communist forces supported by U.N. forces, principally made up of U.S. troops.
  • The Korean War was the first armed conflict in the global struggle between democracy and communism, called the "Cold War".

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. -Douglas MacArthur

Vietnam War (1955-1975) (U.S. involved 1961-1975)

  • U.S. number serving: 8,744,000
  • U.S. casualties: 211,523
  • The U.S. helped non-Communist South Vietnam fight invasion by Communist North Vietnam.

Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind. -John F. Kennedy

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991)

  • U.S. number serving: 2,225,000 (worldwide)
  • Deployed to Gulf: 694,550
  • U.S. casualties: 849
  • The Gulf War (2 August 1990 - 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 - 17 January 1991) for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 - 28 February 1991) in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq's invitation and annexation of Kuwait.

It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle. -Norman Schwarzkopf

Global War on Terror (October 2001- )

  • The Global War on Terror (GWOT), including Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), are ongoing conflicts.
  • As of dedication of this memorial, the Global War on Terror continues. We vow to always remember the events of September 11, 2001 and are forever in debt to those who have served and will serve in the effort to win this war, defeat the cowardice of terrorism and bring freedom's promise of peace to the world.
The attack of September 11, 2001, drew a bright line of demarcation between the civil and the savage. -John Ashcroft

The above historical synopses are engraved on the individual Conflict Monuments.  These synopses depict a history of each armed struggle and will inform future generations of the sacrifice our veterans made for the freedoms we all cherish today.

Casualties on the WVMFF Conflict Monuments are based on the Defense Casualty Analysis System (DCAS) an application maintained by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). The data that DCAS contains is provided from multiple sources, the primary source being that of the military services themselves. DCAS defines a casualty as a Service member that is/has been classified as deceased, wounded, ill or injured.

Conflict Monuments Bibliography 
1. Defense Casualty Analysis System (DCAS) report: Principal Wars in Which the United States Participated – U.S. Military Personnel Serving and Casualties. (Official Source)
2. Stephen W. Lehman, Historian at US Army Center of Military History, Washington D.C.
3. John W. Hall, Ambrose-Hesseltine Chair in U.S. Military History, University of Wisconsin-Madison.