The Washington Post

A quick Memorial Day quiz

Army Vietnam veteran Dwight Holliday, 62, remembers a fallen friend at the Vietnam Wall in Washington. (Linda Davidson - THE WASHINGTON POST) Army Vietnam veteran Dwight Holliday, 62, remembers a fallen friend at the Vietnam Wall in Washington in 2012. (Linda Davidson – THE WASHINGTON POST)

Memorial Day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is a holiday for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

So how much do you know about America’s wars? Here’s a quick five-question quiz:

1) What was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history?

a) Battle of Shiloh 

b) Battle of Gettysburg

c) Battle of Antietam

d) Battle of Okinawa

2. Memorial Day was a response to the loss of American lives in which war?

a) Revolutionary War

b) Civil War

c) World War I

d) World War II

3.  Which is not true about Arlington National Cemetery?

a) It is the only cemetery in the country with veterans from all U.S. wars.

b) The land on which the cemetery was built was originally Robert E. Lee’s Virginia estate that was confiscated by the Union during the Civil War for nonpayment of $92.07 in taxes.

c) In 1877 Lee’s son sued the government for confiscating Arlington illegally but lost his bid to get back the land.

d) There are nearly 30 funerals a day on average at Arlington.

4. Which was America’s longest war — the Vietnam War or the war in Afghanistan?

5. Along with the silver, what did Dolley Madison save from the burning White House in the War of 1812?

a) President Madison’s childhood Bible
b) One of the few official copies of the Declaration of Independence
c) A copy of a famous portrait of George Washington
d) Family photos


1). c. The bloodiest single-day battle in U.S. history was the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, fought on Sept. 17, 1862. Also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, it was the first major Civil War battle to be waged on Union soil. There were between 23,000 and 26,000 killed, wounded or missing after 12 hours of fighting.

2) a. Civil War.

3) c. In 1877, Lee’s son did sue the government for confiscating Arlington illegally, but he  won. The Supreme Court gave him back the land, but what could the Lee family do with an estate littered with corpses? George Lee sold it back to the government for $150,000. Over time, 250,000 soldiers would be buried in what is now Arlington National Cemetery.

4) It is commonly said that the war in Afghanistan was the longest war. It started in 2001 and is nearly a dozen years old. But many say the Vietnam War. Why? Because in 1955 the Americans took over responsibility for training South Vietnamese troops from France, and any U.S. military fatality after that point could have been included on the Vietnam Memorial wall. The first name on the wall is that of US Air Force Technical Sergeant Richard B. Fitzgibbon Jr., who died in1956. The usual date given for the start of the war was 1964, when Congress passed the infamous “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” which allowed then president Johnson to take “all necessary steps” in Vietnam to protect U.S. forces. It was revealed much later that the event that the resolution was in response to, a clash between a U.S. ship and the North Vietnamese, never actually happened. The first U.S. ground troops arrived in 1965. The war ended in 1975.

5) c. A portrait of George Washington. She thought it was an original portrait by Gilbert Stuart but it was actually a copy.



Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · May 27, 2013

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