On the world stage, as a leading military superpower, America has been involved in wars and conflicts to protect or ensure American values and democracy, as well as the sovereignty of other nations, and to support allied governments whose own conflicts bear on global peace.
Each U.S. military branch—from the Army and Marine Corps to the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard—has gone through dramatic strategic and technological advances throughout its history. Sailing vessels armed with harpoons and single-shot cannons gave way to diesel-powered ships capable of transporting entire fleets from one side of the planet to another and protecting the planet's oceans. Aircraft evolved from biplanes to the modern jet-powered fighters we see today. Warfare went from lines of troops and trenches to highly strategic, multifaceted combat leaning more on technology than on individual soldiers, though the military remains only as strong as the people who comprise it.
America's military history includes countless moments of triumph and loss during conflicts in locations both at home and abroad. From the American Revolution to the end of the Gulf War, over 42 million people have served in the United States military during wartime. The losses suffered are countless, and only a fraction of their work, heroism, and sacrifice stories are known. Often a single picture says more than words ever could.
To that end, Stacker compiled both well-known and lesser-known photographs from Getty Images—each with its own place in American military history. Shown here are mothers, sons, fathers, and daughters who were drafted or enlisted, and who served their country throughout the generations. These snapshots offer a window into the lives of veterans and civilians during various moments in military history.
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