Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!


The Declaration of Independence, read by an all-star cast.

The team here at Diminished Expectations wants to wish each and every one of you the absolute best of the holiday (especially our British friends who are remarkably good natured about Americans annually celebrating the start of a major war against them).

Here in the States, the fourth is a family holiday replete with cookouts, fireworks and a certain amount of drunkenness. This is as it should be.

I would be remiss however if I failed to remind us of the sacrifices that went into making this an independent country. I did some back of the envelope math this morning and if my calculations are correct, the revolution was (by far) the costliest war in American history. While the absolute numbers of deaths were small compared to later conflicts, relative to to population the death toll is staggering. If one includes military deaths from all causes and civilian casualties (but not those of Americans and Indians loyal to the crown) it works out 10.9 million dead with today's population. The Civil War is only 5.9 million and that's if you include Confederates in the U.S. total. Even if you ignore deaths from disease and civilian casualties, the losses endured are equivalent to something like 2.7 million battlefield dead. Astonishing. What's more, if one focuses on the social and economic subgroups which made of the armies of the day, British casualties may have been worse. This was a far bloodier war than I had realized.

If you get a moment, think of those men (and women) who sacrificed themselves on the altar of liberty. This country is their monument.

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