Memorial Day 5.26.14


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Front page of The Virginian-Pilot

Editor Denis Finley sent out a request for ideas for the front page and I thought it would be interesting to try to find an authoritative total of U.S. military deaths through the nation’s history.

Pilot researcher Jakon Hays discovered lots of different sources with lots of different totals.

So, Finley decided to keep it simple and go with the Dept. of Defense numbers, which were less than complete.

Even with the DOD’s limited list of conflicts, the total was over 1 million, which surprised me.

The script is Abe Lincoln’s, from his 1863 Gettysburg Address. The highest resolution copy I could find was the hand written copy he gave to Edward Everett, the long winded politician who spoke for 2 hours before Lincoln stood up and said a lot more in just a minute or two.

The problem was that when he dashed it off, he cut some corners on his penmanship – his “a” looked like an “o.” His “s” was open at the bottom and the loop of his “e” was closed. We thought it would be ok to adjust these letters slightly, using better examples of his handwriting in other parts of the manuscript.

I always thought this phrase was particularly evocative and beautiful.