Ask the Times
Deaths in recent wars
How many American soldiers have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
As of May 19, there have been 4,410 U.S. military combat deaths and 13 Defense Department civilian deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom, for a total of 4,423. Of those, 3,490 were the result of combat, and 933 were nonhostile. The wounded in action count is 31,941.
There have been 2,184 U.S. military combat deaths and three Defense Department civilian deaths in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. There are also 133 deaths attributed to this campaign that occurred outside of Afghanistan, for a total of 2,320. Of those, 502 were nonhostile. The wounded in action count is 19,765.
The information can be found at the Department of Defense web page: defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf.
Hats off for the anthem
Why are people expected to remove their hats when the national anthem is played?
Tradition, mostly, though there is a law on the books that requires it. U.S. Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, Subsection 171, reads:
"Conduct during playing: During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there."
There are no enforcement provisions, and no penalty provided for failing to comply. Instead, according to the 2008 update provided by the Congressional Research Service to the Congress: "The Code functions simply as a guide to be voluntarily followed by civilians and civilian groups."
Native Civil War troops
About 188,000 black troops fought for the Union during the Civil War, with about 38,000 killed in combat. Did American Native troops fight for either side?
Native Americans fought for both the Union and the Confederacy, with men from many tribes seeing action. Ely Samuel Parker, a Seneca, became a general in the Union Army, served on Ulysses S. Grant's staff and wrote the terms of surrender that Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox. Stand Watie, a Cherokee, was a general in the Confederate Army.
Members of the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes typically sided with the Confederacy and the Union Army formed units — called the Indian Home Guards — from the Delaware, Creek, Seminole, Kickapoo, Seneca, Osage and Shawnee tribes, among others.
Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.