Sunday, November 6, 2016

Why I Vote

Executive Summary

Some of my friends, family and colleagues tell me they don’t vote. They have lots of reasons. They say that their vote does not count. They say that the system is, at best, a poorly designed system and, at worst, completely corrupt system. They say that they do not follow politics. They say that they don’t have time. This got me to thinking about why I am so on the polar opposite end of those thoughts. I always vote. I began to wonder why that was the case. This essay is my attempt to work that out. What I discovered was that voting for me is about being a man and the example I set for my own children. It is about being an appreciative citizen and not taking for granted the privileges won by the spilt blood of our ancestors. It is about giving back to the community, in some small measure, in order to preserve these rights that men and women thought were so important in our country’s history that they were willing to lay down their lives for it. I vote because the idea of one person, one vote is perhaps the cornerstone to our participative democratic republic, a thing we can point to in our aspiration to the American Exceptionalism ideal, and I don’t want to take it for granted. I vote because of all of the contentious issues that lay before us as a nation, the act of voting is the one thing that we do together to address those issues. I vote because it took the country over 200 years to get it right through one awful war, five constitutional amendments, numerous national laws and continuous attacks to limit the franchise. I vote because the act is precious to me and I never want to lose the privilege.

Introduction

I am not a political junky. I don't spend endless hours consuming the philosophical blather from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, John Oliver, Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow. I don't have a burning issue; at least not one that I am so passionate about that I accost little old ladies on the street that do not agree with me in an effort to bend them to my will. What I do have is a deep seated appreciation that many people around the world do not benefit from the same privilege of participative government that I have simply because I happened to be born in this country. 

Privilege and Participative. 

Those are two interesting words that describe the design of the U.S. Government system. And yet, I always run into friends, family, colleagues and strangers who don’t vote. They have lots of reasons. “My one vote does not count.” “The Electoral College is rigged.” “I don’t follow politics.” “I don’t like any of the candidates.” “I was too busy to register.” “I had to work that day.” I am always flabbergasted by that logic. For the Howard family, the idea of not voting is never on the table. We clear the day. We make it a Howard event. We don’t talk in terms of “if” we vote. We talk in terms of “when” we vote. And it got me thinking, why do we feel that way? Why does the act of “Not Voting” seem so wrong to us?

A few years ago, I took a taxi to the O’Hare Airport from my hotel in Chicago. I learned that my taxi driver, a delightful fellow by the name of Nicky, came from a small country on the east coast of Africa called Eritrea. When he was three years old back in 1993, his country declared independence from their current dictator. By the time he was eight, his family had moved to a refugee camp within the country because the succeeding dictator had dumped them into a war with the neighbors (Yemen and Ethiopia). The regime was so repressive that the lives of Nicky’s family were in danger. Nicky’s parents took the extraordinary step of shipping all three siblings, including Nicky, to America at the first opportunity. When Nicky told me that, I immediately thought about my own kids. How bad would it have to get in my country before I would decide to ship my kids to another country to preserve their safety and future? And how lucky am I that the chances of something like that ever happening in the USA are a million to one? 

When I get in these moods, I often remind myself about America’s founding fathers. 

You Have to Earn the American Exceptionalism Title

When these remarkable men signed the Declaration of Independence, they may as well have signed their own death warrants and they knew it. If the colonies had lost the war for independence against the British, the royal authorities would have executed them as traitors at the first opportunity. [1] When I think about this collective act of disobedience, this act of defiance in the face of especially low odds of winning the revolutionary war, I am humbled that these men-among-men were prepared to give their lives in support of a bigger idea; an idea that there could be a better way to govern. That is a high-bar-standard for American exceptionalism and it makes me consider if I have any beliefs within my own personal philosophy that are so strong that I would willingly give my life, and the fortunes of my family, to preserve them. 

When you think about it, you realize that America does not ask much of its citizens for the privilege of living here. Citizens pay taxes and follow the law. That is about it. The country does not compel service, does not compel silence against its policies and does not compel participation in the system. It does not even compel a respect for the system that was so hard fought and won against incredible odds.

Because of that, some American pundits think that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. Others think that it is arrogant to claim that title when it clearly lacks in several key metrics that might be used to choose the winner of such a competition. In my mind, both sides misunderstand the implication of the exceptionalism label. When you compare America to the rest of the world, the idea of best has no meaning. Who cares if you are number one or ten or 50? What can you do with that knowledge? What is important is that when you do the comparison, out of the 195 [2] sovereign nations in the world, America has a good chance of being remarkable; of leading in a positive way; of acting as a force of good in the world; of setting an example of how things might be done. When opportunities arise to demonstrate that behavior and we intentionally decide to do something less than that, we do not live up to that potential. We do not live up to the American Exceptionalism ideal that the Founding Fathers gave us. 

For me, the act of voting is one of those opportunities. That simple act of civic duty is a way for me to step up; to give a little something back to this country that has given me and my family so much. However flawed the voting system is, voting is our modern-day demonstration and proof to the world and ourselves that we are worthy of the exceptionalism title. It seems the least I can do. What concerns me is that our right to vote is not guaranteed. If we are not careful and diligent, we may lose that opportunity altogether.

Universal Suffrage – A Relatively New Idea and an Idea that We Must Protect

American Universal suffrage, the idea that every citizen gets an equal vote, has not been around that long. Our well respected Founding Fathers did not specify in the constitution that universal suffrage was even something they were worried about. From the very beginning, voters were citizens who owned land; a tradition that came over from the old country. This new red, white and blue government excluded Native Americans, Women, Blacks – all minorities really - the Poor and the Illiterate from the voting process. But the country kept chipping away at it. Government leaders kept running into the paradox that if America is indeed a democratic republic, a government by the people, then the laws that govern that body should not exclude anybody from the process. It was not until the mid-1960s, after five Constitutional Amendments, a Civil War and numerous federal Laws, that the Judicial Branch finally agreed that the constitution guarantees every person the right to vote. (See How the U.S got to Universal Suffrage below [3]

But for every step forward in achieving universal suffrage, the country seemed to take two steps back. Elected officials found ways to restrict voting rights from people they thought were unworthy even after passing constitutional amendments prohibiting that behavior. Read that last sentence again. Our elected officials, that same body that pushed for universal suffrage, fought against itself to limit the voting rights of certain citizens. Even after the Civil War when the government passed the 15th amendment in 1856 giving the right to vote to all male races including Blacks, southern state governments began passing local legislation that essentially made it so hard to vote in those states, that by 1900, the 15th amendment might as well have not been passed. [3]

But we kept chipping away at it and even though the judicial branch generally supports the universal suffrage idea today, the legislative branch still passes laws that try to limit the franchise. At the conclusion of each decade, the US government completes a constitutionally mandated census to ensure that the number of House of Representative seats reflects the population size within each state. [4][5] Within a tradition that has been going on since the beginning of the nation, the party in power takes the opportunity to redraw congressional district boundaries in a way that will best enable their party officials to get re-elected in the next election. This is called gerrymandering. [6] After the 2010 census and midterm elections, Republicans altered 210 congressional districts and Democrats altered 44 out of a total of 435 (58%). [7][2] For this 2016 presidential election, 14 states have passed restrictive voter ID Laws, inconvenient registration laws and early voting cutback laws. These restrictions tend to affect low income voters, people of color and very old people. [8] This past year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Texas law designed to fundamentally alter the one person, one vote idea. Texans wanted to change the country’s apportionment rules, the rules that determine the number of U.S. House of Representatives for each state, from total population to simply eligible voters. [9] The Supreme Court rejected the proposal out of hand but the legal action is indicative of our lawmaker’s continuous effort to reduce the franchise.

The achievement of universal suffrage was a long fought battle over the course of the nation’s entire history. But it is not one of those things that we can check off the list and never think about it again. It is continually attacked by unscrupulous politicians to bend it to their advantage. Even though many Americans would accept that idea that every citizen deserves the right to vote, our elected officials tend to think they have the authority to shape the electorate to their advantage. That is why, when voting time comes around in my state, the idea that I would not cast a vote or exercise the privilege that was so hard-fought and won by our founding fathers (and mothers) does not occur to me.

The Joy of Community Citizenship

Obligations back to the country and threats to universal suffrage are serious issues. Before I turn the reader off completely for being such a downer, let me take it up a notch by describing one of my true pleasures in life. The physical act of voting, for me anyway, is inspiring. I usually go early, before work, so that I can ensure that the normal chaos of the day does not interfere with the voting process. Elections in Virginia, my home state, generally occur in the spring and the fall. The early mornings are usually cool but sunny. When I arrive at the polling station, other like-minded people are doing the same thing. There is a sense of community and purpose; never said out loud but inferred as you say good morning and make small talk with the volunteers and voters that are there with you. My favorite part is standing in line waiting for my turn in the voting booth. I get a big kick out of watching the volunteers, mostly retired old folks, who ensure that the mechanics of the voting process go smoothly. When I get to the desk where the volunteer finds my name on the voter list and checks it off, I can’t help but get a sense of belonging; an inclusiveness within a larger idea that is good and something to care about. And finally, after I make my selections, and turn to walk out of the building, a volunteer always shakes your hand, slaps a “I voted” sticker on your chest and says thanks for voting. 

That is a good morning. 

Final Thoughts

Voting for me is about being a man and the example I set for my own children. It is about being an appreciative citizen and not taking for granted the privileges won by the spilt blood of our ancestors. It is about giving back to the community, in some small measure, in order to preserve these rights that men and women thought were so important in our country’s history that they were willing to lay down their lives for it. I vote because the idea of one person, one vote is perhaps the cornerstone to our participative democratic republic, a thing we can point to in our aspiration to the American Exceptionalism ideal, and I don’t want to take it for granted. I vote because of all of the contentious issues that lay before us as a nation, voting is the one thing that we do together to address those issues. It took the country over 200 years to get it right through one awful war, five constitutional amendments, numerous national laws and continuous attacks to limit the franchise. I vote because the act is precious to me and I never want to lose the privilege. On November 8 (Tuesday), the people of the United States will vote for 

34 Senators
435 Congressional Representatives
12 Governors 
154 statewide ballot measures

Issues on the table are marijuana legalization, minimum wage, gun control, tobacco tax increases and general changes to the tax law. [10] I vote because I refuse to abdicate my only direct way to influence the process. I hope that you will join me.

Sources

[1] "What if America had lost the Revolution?" by PATRICK J. KIGER, HOWSTUFFWORKS: SCIENCE, 14 February 2012.

[2] "Independent States of the World: List of all Sovereign Nations and their Capital Cities," One World Nations Online, 2016, Last Visited 5 November 2016, 

[3] "The Right To Vote: The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States," by Alexander Keyssar, Published August 15th 2000, Basic Books, 

[4] "About What We Do," by The United States Census, Last Visited 3 November 2013,
http://www.census.gov/aboutus/

[5] "One Million-Scale Congressional Districts of the United States," by National Atlas, Last Visited 3 November 2013,
http://nationalatlas.gov/mld/cgd113p.html

[6] "A modest proposal to neutralize gerrymandering," by David Brin, Salon, 20 October 2013, Last Visited 2 November 2013,
http://www.salon.com/2013/10/20/a_modest_proposal_to_neutralize_gerrymandering/

[7] "Tea Party's House Seats Might Not Be All That Safe," by Karen Weise, BloombergBusinessweek, 14 october 2013, Last Visited 31 October 2013,
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-10-14/tea-partys-house-seats-might-not-be-all-that-safe

[8] "New Voting Restrictions in Place for 2016 Presidential Election," by the Brennan Center for Justice, 

[9] "Supreme Court rejects conservative challenge to ‘one person, one vote,’" By Robert Barnes, The Washington Post, 4 April 2016, Last Visited 5 November 2016

[10] "Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics," Last Visited 6 November 2016,



How the U.S got to Universal Suffrage

5 Constitutional Amendments
A Civlil War
7 Federal Laws
And we are not done yet


15th Amendment:
1869: The states ratified the 15th Amendment granting males of all races, especially former slaves, the right to vote.

19th Amendment:
1920: The states ratified the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote

23rd Amendment:
1961: The states ratified the 23rd Amendment giving limited voting rights to the residents of Washington D.C.

24th Amendment:
1964: the states ratified the 24th Amendment banning poll taxes that hindered poor and minority citizens from voting

26th Amendment:
1971: The states ratified the 26th Amendment lowering the voting age to 18 (because Vietnam vets could fight in a war but could not vote).

1870: The Civil Rights Acts 
Amended 1957, 1960, and 1964
Protections against discrimination in voting 

1965: Voting Rights Act
Prohibits discriminating voting practices based on race, color, or membership in a language in a minority group. 

1984: Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act
Requires polling places to be accessible to people with disabilities.

1986: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA): 
Allows members of the U.S. Armed Forces and overseas voters to both register to vote and vote by mail.

1993: National Voter Registration Act (NVRA): 
Increases opportunities to register to vote and creates procedures for maintaining voter registration lists, making it easier for people to stay registered.

2002: Help America Vote Act (HAVA):
Authorizes federal funds for election administration and creates the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 

2009: Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment (MOVE) Act:
Amends the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to improve access to voting by military and overseas voters. 

References

"Court Upends Voting Rights Act," by Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, 25 June 2013, Last Visited 3 November 2013,

"Does your vote count? The Electoral College explained," by Christina Greer, 1 November 2012

"Everything That’s Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled on Voting Rights Act," by Kara Brandeisky and Mike Tigas, ProPublica, 1 November 2013, Last Visited 3 November 2013,
http://www.propublica.org/article/voting-rights-by-state-map

"Florida Defends New Effort to Clean Up Voter Rolls," By LIZETTE ALVAREZ 9 October 2013, New York Times, Last Visited 2 November 2013,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/us/florida-defends-new-effort-to-clean-up-voter-rolls.html

" 'Outrageous' or overdue?: Court strikes down part of historic voting rights law," by Bill Mears and Greg Botelho, CNN Politics, 26 June 2013, Last Visited 3 November 2013,

“Poll Taxes,” by David F. Forte, Professor of Law, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, Last Visited 1 November 2014,
http://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/amendments/24/essays/186/poll-taxes

“States With New Voting Restrictions Since 2010 Election,” by Brennan Center for Justice, New York University of Law, Last Visited 1 November 2014,

“The 24th Amendment Ended the Poll Tax January 23, 1964,” by The Library of Congress, Last Visited 1 November 2014,
http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_polltax_1.html

“The Dangerous Legal Rule Behind The Supreme Court’s Latest Voter Suppression Decision,” By IAN MILLHISER POSTED, ThinkProgress, 18 OCTOBER 2014, Last Visited 1 November 2014,
http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/10/18/3581589/the-dangerous-legal-rule-behind-the-supreme-courts-voter-id-order/

“The State of Voting in 2014,” by Wendy R. Weiser and Erik Opsal, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, June 17, 2014, Last Visited 1 November 2014,
http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/state-voting-2014

"The Voting Rights Act Is in Peril on Its Forty-Eighth Anniversary," by Ari Berman, 6 August 2013, The Nation, Last Visited 3 November 2013,
http://www.thenation.com/blog/175618/voting-rights-act-peril-its-forty-eighth-anniversary#

"Virginia election officials purging almost 40,000 voters," by Reid Wilson, 17 October 2013, Washington Post: Gov Beat, Last Visited 2 November 2013,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/10/17/virginia-election-officials-purging-almost-40000-voters/

“Voter Suppression: How Bad? (Pretty Bad),” by Wendy R. Weiser, The American Prospect Longform, Fall 2014, Last Visited 1 November 2014,

“Voter Suppression Backfires in Texas and Wisconsin,” by Ari Berman, The Nation, 10 October 2014, Last Visited 1 November 2014,
http://www.thenation.com/blog/181942/voter-suppression-backfires-texas-and-wisconsin




Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Essay: Reborn at Arlington

1,500 US Army soldiers stood on the misty parade field at Fort Meyer waiting for the sun to rise. The leadership had scheduled another morale building yet mandated "fun run" where once a quarter, the entire unit comes together to do PT (Physical Training) in a show of Esprit de Corp and unit cohesion. Since we were all stationed at the Pentagon, many of us had been in the Army for a while. We were a little broken down in the body department and had seen our fair share of these types of events. There we were, at the twilight of our careers, huddled in small groups during the dawn of one more PT morning.

Of course, there was the usual grumbling between the older soldiers asking one another if we were motivated yet and if we had a cup of Esprit De Corps to spare. But there was a sprinkling of young soldiers among us too and their shiny new faces kept us old timers from getting too cynical and fussy.

As the sun poked up above the horizon, the Army's Command Sergeant Major called the gaggle to attention and the formation began to run. The Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) led the assemblage in rousing voice and extolled the virtues of Granny [1], My Girl [2] and the C-130 [3]. Below the roar of the singing, just in the background, you could hear the footsteps of the 1500 strong pounding the pavement in syncopated rhythm.

The formation crested the hill overlooking Arlington Cemetery and the vista of Washington DC opened up before us. The Army Colors, at the front of the formation, started their decent towards the Cemetery just as the sun had risen to about the same height as the Washington Monument several miles distant. And still the singing and the pounding drove the formation as it snaked down the hill towards the front gates.

As the colors passed into the Cemetery, like a line of dominoes falling, the singing faded away. One platoon after the other fell silent in mute honor of our fallen comrades-in-arms laid to rest in the National Cemetery. As the voices muted, the only sound you could hear was the constant beat, beat, beat of the run and the Army colors whipping in the slight breeze. Nobody spoke except for the occasional NCO keeping everybody in step with a solid, but quiet, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 1 -2 - 3 - 4. It was serene. It was sublime.

Midway through the run, the Command Sergeant Major called the formation to a halt and commanded us to execute a right-face towards the middle of the cemetery. The rising sun had burned off the last vestiges of mist from the manicured lawns. The breeze trickled through the formation’s silence and the Army Colors at the front. And then we all heard it; that mournful sound of a single bugler playing Taps. [4] He began the music low at first; almost whispering the sound through the horn. But slowly, his crescendo wrapped the listener into a cocoon of sadness, memory, and a sense of loss about the lives that could have been. On that misty morning, young and old soldiers alike shed mutual tears as the bugler played on.

When it was done and the silence greeted the end of the song, a chill went down my back. It occurred to me that we were not merely taking a morning jog anymore. We were actually passing in review. These fallen soldiers who performed the ultimate sacrifice for their country were watching us and sizing us up. I hoped that we could pass muster. I had this great desire to let them know that we had the guide-on now and it was in good hands. We would not let them down. I stood a little taller then. As we began to run home, the burden of running was a little lighter. As 1500 boarded the buses to head back to the Pentagon, I realized that this old soldier was less cynical today; less worn for wear. Although I may not have the shiny face of one of those new soldiers, I was reborn this morning. Together, both old and young, we will carry on.

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. It is a U.S. holiday that originally began in 1856 as a way for local communities to honor the Union soldiers who died in the U.S. Civil War. After WWI, the meaning of the holiday shifted to include all who have died in American wars. In 1971, the U.S. Congress made the remembrance a national holiday. [5]

I wrote the above essay, “Reborn at Arlington,” back in 2000 when I was stationed at the Pentagon and long before the madness of 9/11 kicked in and our Presidents committed our military to over 15 years of war across five different operations [8]. Since then, 6,888 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians have been killed and 52,435 have been wounded in action in this everlasting “War on Terrorism.” [6][7] It is now five years older than the Vietnam War, the former longest U.S. War ever (10 years), and there seems to be no end in sight. [10] The U.S. still has some 6,000 troops deployed in the Middle East at a cost of $2.1 Million per soldier per year. [9]

And you have to ask yourself why? Can you point to one thing that the U.S. got by committing 15 years of blood and treasure to this cause? Can you even articulate what it is we are still fighting in the Middle East for? Supporters of the “War on Terrorism” will point to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden and the execution of Saddam Hussein as two big wins. They will say that we are keeping ISIS at bay. But as the years go by and the cost of the effort continues to rise, we have to ask ourselves when is it enough? How much more do we have to pay in blood and treasure to pursue loosely defined objectives? When is it over? Are we comfortable with the nation conducting a war indefinitely?

As of last year, the U.S. has spent $1.7 Trillion dollars (That is Trillion with a T) on the global “War on Terrorism” since 2001. [11] To give you something to compare that to, 1.7 trillion seconds is ~60,000 years [12] Combine that with close to 7,000 military killed and over 52,000 wounded to get a sense of the total cost to the nation. [6][7][12] The “War on Terrorism” is the sixth largest U.S. war in terms of military killed out of the 12 that the U.S. has fought. And we are not done. The clock is still ticking.

The United States has marked this weekend as a time to honor our fallen soldiers. As President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, “It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” But it occurs to me that instead of taking a day to remember our fallen citizens, that we might make a grander gesture. We might consider demanding that our politicians articulate what we are trying to accomplish in the “War on Terrorism” with more precision. We might consider trying to find a way to bring our military home so that on next year’s Memorial Day, we will not have to add more numbers to the casualty list.

"War on Terrorism" by Operation

Operation Enduring Freedom

The Afghanistan War
From 7 October 2001 to 28 December 2014 [8]
13 Years
2,349 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Killed [6][7]
20,071 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Wounded in Action [6] [7]



Operation Iraqi Freedom

The Iraq War
From 19 Mar 2003 to 19 Aug 2010 [8]
7 Years.
4,424 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Killed [6] [7]
31,952 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Wounded in Action [6] [7]



Operation New Dawn

Iraq War Transition
From 1 September 2010 to 15 December 2015 [8]
5 Years
73 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Killed [6] [7]
295 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Wounded in Action [6] [7]



Operation Inherent Resolve

Military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
From 15 June 2014 to --- [8]
2 Years +
20 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Killed [6] [7]
14 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Wounded in Action [6] [7]



Operation Freedom Sentinel

The Afghanistan Support Mission
From 1 January 2015 to -- [8]
1 Year +
22 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Killed [6] [7]
103 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Wounded in Action [6] [7]



Total "War on Terrorism"

From 7 October 2001 to -- [8]
15 Years +
6,888 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Killed [6] [7]
52,435 U.S. Soldiers and DOD Civilians Wounded in Action [6] [7]

Deployed troops in the Middle East: 6,000 [9]
Cost: $2.1 Million per soldier per year [9]





American War Death Toll [13]


1,000 (Not including the Native Americans): Indian War
1,565: Persian Gulf War
2,260: War of 1812
2,446: Spanish-American War
4,435: Revolutionary War

6,888: "War on Terrorism"

13,283: Mexican War

54, 246; Korean War
90,220: Vietnam War
116,516: WWI

405,399: WWII
498,332: Civil War



Sources:
[1] "Army Cadence - My Old Granny, She's 91," 19 September 2008, Last Visited 22 May 2015,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rGOPJ890zA

[2] "C-130 Rollin' Down The Strip," 20 May 2007, Last Visited 22 May 2015,

[3] "U.S. Army Cadence My Girls A Pretty Girl," 14 July 2008, Last Visited 22 May 2015,

[4] “Montgomery clift trumpet,” From Here to Eternity, Posted 12 March 2007, Last Visited 22 May 2015,

[5] "10 historical facts about Memorial Day," by Allison Sylte, KSDK-TV, St. Louis, Mo. May 23, 2015, Last Visited 23 May 2015,
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/05/22/historical-facts-memorial-day/27817017/ 

[6] "A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom," by Hannah Fischer, Congressional Research Service, 7 August 7 2015, Last Visited 28 May 2016.

[7] "Casualty Status," U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 27 May 2016, Last Visited 28 May 2016,
www.defense.gov/casualty.pdf

[8] "U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Recent Conflicts," by Barbara Salazar Torreon, Congressional Research Service, 27 February 2015, Last Visited 28 May 2016.

[9] "Where in the World Isn't the U.S. Military?" By Bonnie Kristian, U.S. News and World Report, 4 May 2016, Last Visited 28 May 2016,
http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-05-04/obamas-secret-troop-deployments-cost-taxpayers

[10] "These are America’s 9 longest foreign wars," by Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, 29 May 29 2014.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/05/29/these-are-americas-9-longest-foreign-wars/

[11] "The War On Terror Has Cost Taxpayers $1.7 Trillion [Infographic]," by Niall McCarthy, Forbes Magazine, 3 February 2015, Last Visited 29 May 2016,
http://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2015/02/03/the-war-on-terror-has-cost-taxpayers-1-7-trillion-infographic/#42b001585cf0

[12] "How to Develop a Sense of Scale," by Kalid, Better Explained, 2008, Last Visited 29 May 2016,

[13] "How many Americans have died in U.S. wars?" BY MEGAN CRIGGER AND LAURA SANTHANAM, PBS - WETA, 24 May 2015, Last Visited 29 May 2016,

[14] “Memorial Day Events,” ABC News, 2014, Last Visited 29 May 2016,
http://abcnews.go.com/US/photos/memorial-day-events-23857328/image-23864558