Monday, May 26, 2014

War deaths remembered

The San Franciscans who commissioned this monument dedicated in 1903 to the valor of California's soldiers in the Spanish American War evidently didn't share the contemporary sense that death in war is a terrible waste. Hence the detail in the photo. Those who commissioned the memorial were apparently wildly enthusiastic about the 1898 conquest of the Philippines and Cuba and thought the war worth the price of some of their young men. Where we see squandered lives, they saw heroism.

The United States lost a little over 3200 soldiers and sailors in that adventure, nearly 3000 of those to disease.
The Spanish American War was my grandfather's war. He served as captain of Company C of the New York State 202nd Infantry Regiment. Family lore was that the regiment never saw combat; instead they mostly became ill on arrival in the Caribbean. My grandfather's obituary reports the unit was nonetheless among the first to march into Havana.

The young Frank Sidway cut a handsome figure in his dress uniform. I never knew him; he died, as a 68 year old civilian, a decade before I was born.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

I have a lot of trouble with this holiday. It does not seem like cause for celebration.
I do like the family photo, though.

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