Throughout the 400-year history of the United States, Americans have fought on battlefields both near and far, in clashes both large and small, alone and with allies at their sides. From the American Revolution of the late 18th century to the Iraq War in the early 21st, these conflicts have shaped the country’s policies, influenced its culture, defined its borders and cost thousands of lives.
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This Day in History
Memorial Day, observed the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the American military.
November 11 is Veterans Day, a U.S. federal holiday dedicated to honoring veterans who served honorably in war or peacetime.
The American Civil War, fueled by the debate over slavery and states' rights, pitted North against South in the costliest conflict fought on U.S. soil.
An international military conflict, World War II involved most countries around the world and lasted from 1939 to 1945.
War of 1812
Dates: 1812 - 1815
Where: Canada, Eastern seaboard of the United States, Great Lakes and Lake Champlain
How It Ended: The Treaty of Ghent was signed on Dec. 24, 1814. Unaware of the treaty, Gen. Andrew Jackson engaged and crushed the British at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815.
American Battle Deaths: 2,260 (approx.)
Dates: 1846 - 1848
Where: Mexico and southwestern United States, including modern-day Texas, California and New Mexico
How It Ended: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on Feb. 2, 1848.
American Battle Deaths: 1,733 (approx.)
Dates: 1861 - 1865
Where: Primarily in the Eastern half of the United States (east of the Mississippi River)
How It Ended: Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at the small settlement of Appomattox Court House in southwestern Virginia on April 9, 1865.
American Battle Deaths: Union forces 140,414 and Confederate forces 74,524 (approx.)
Dates: April 25 - Aug. 12, 1898
Where: Mainly in the Spanish possessions of Cuba and the Philippines
How It Ended: The Treaty of Paris was signed on Dec. 10, 1898.
American Battle Deaths: 385 (approx.)
World War II
Dates: 1939 - 1945
Where: Europe, North Africa, Asia, Australia, and Pacific islands including Hawaii, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
How It Ended: Japan was the last Axis power to surrender on August 14, 1945, after the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
American Battle Deaths: 291,557 (approx.)
Dates: 1950 - 1953
Where: North and South Korea
How It Ended: The war reached a stalemate in June 1951. An armistice was finally reached on July 27, 1953.
American Battle Deaths: 33,741 (approx.)
Dates: 1954 - 1975
Where: Southeast Asia
How It Ended: The U.S. withdrew after a ceasefire in 1973. North Vietnam proved victorious with the Fall of Saigon in April 1975.
American Battle Deaths: 47,424 (approx.)
Persian Gulf War
Dates: August 1990 - April 1991
Where: Iraq and Kuwait
How It Ended: After a four-day ground war, an American-led coalition declared victory. A cease-fire agreement was signed on April 9, 1991.
American Battle Deaths: 147 (approx.)
War in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom)
Dates: Oct. 7, 2001 - Conflict continues...
American Battle Deaths: more than 1,800 as of June 18, 2012
Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom)
Dates: March 19, 2003 - Conflict continues...
American Battle Deaths: more than 4,400 as of June 18, 2012
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