Memorial Day: Naming Names

MEMORIAL DAY.  When you hear those words, what’s the first thing that comes into your mind?  A day off?  A barbeque? Camping?  Flags?  Perhaps you even briefly think about cemeteries—but not for too long, since they are kind of depressing.  And holidays should be fun—shouldn’t they?

The word memorial basically means to ‘preserve a memory.” Websters Dictionary tells us, that used as an adjective, it means “to preserve remembrance: commemorative.”  As a noun it’s defined as “something that keeps remembrance alive: such as a monument… or record…

So, what exactly is it that we are to preserve, commemorate, and remember on Memorial Day?

When President Harding declared Memorial Day as a national holiday, he emphasized honoring those who died in the service of our country.  Rudyard Kipling articulated this sentiment well in his famous poem, Recessional: Lest We Forget.

There are many common ways of remembering, and therefore honoring the sacrifices made by so many: Laying Wreaths on their graves, observing formal ceremonies, or attending local parades. One can even honor the comrades we’ve lost in unique ways, like the man who wrote down the names of over 2000 fallen servicemen from memory.

That exercise may seem a bit daunting, or extreme for most of us, but something that we can do is to simply remember the names of those individuals.

The English street artist Banksy has been rumored to have said, “…they say you die twice.  One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”  And he might be onto something.  Perhaps the best thing we can do for those who have died on our behalf is to say their name.

There is one problem with this: According to, roughly 1,185,596 American troops from all service branches have died in all the wars America has been in since the end of the Revolutionary War.  That’s a lot of individuals to name, yet every single one of those individuals deserves to be honored.

If we were to say one name per second, it would take 13 days, 17 hours and about 21 minutes to say every one of those 1.185 million+ names—even supposing we could find a list of all of those names.

What we can do, however, is narrow the list down. So why don’t those of us in Wyoming focus on honoring the fallen from Wyoming?

That’s what a group from Casper did last year when they recorded all those names on a memorial.  You could travel to Casper, stand in front of that memorial, and read those names out loud… or you could read those names from a list.

All you need is that list.

The staff at Wyoming Family Alliance searched in vain for a comprehensive online list of all of Wyoming’s war dead. We found many partial lists, but nothing all-encompassing, so we decided to create one for ourselves and to share with you.

Click the button below to see the lists we’ve compiled at Wyoming’s Fallen Heroes Virtual Memorial.

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