It's only a number, right? But to the family and friends associated with that number, it's so much more. It represents the number of American lives lost in Iraq over the past five years. They are, indeed, more than just a number.
But since so many anti-military types are focused on that number, let's take a scientific look at that number. USA Today
broke it down nicely today:
Worst month: Nov. 2004, 137 dead
98% of the dead are male
25% of the dead are non-Caucasian
Median age at death: 21
91% are NCO's and enlisted
Ft. Hood has lost more than any other military installation
New York City has lost more than any other hometown
52% were killed by bombs
20% were killed by non-hostile acts (including 15 electrocutions which are now under heavy scrutiny- and should be.)
Worst single day: Jan. 26, 2005, 37 dead, 31 of which died when their helicopter crashed in a sandstorm
Least deadly month: Feb. 2004, 21 dead
No one died on 460 days out of the past 1,825 days (that's just over 25%)
In addition to the nearly 4,000 killed in Iraq, nearly 500 have been killed in Afghanistan and other locations related to the GWOT.
Some of those 4,500 are people I "know" either in real life or through blogging, but most are strangers to me. Regardless, they are all people I wish I knew before their death, so that I could have thanked them for their sacrifice and service.
Now, let's put the 4,500 in perspective:
It's less than 2/3rds of the US fatalities during the 1 month battle of Iwo Jima
It's less than US losses on each of the first three days of the Battle of the Bulge
It's less than 1/4 of the US losses in Vietnam in 1968 alone
And finally, this war was started as a response to the 9/11 attacks, a day which saw over 3,000 Americans lose their lives on our soil. One day, on OUR soil...
I don't know how many have been seriously injured, and I don't know how many foreigners (including citizens and insurgents) have been seriously injured or killed, but I do know that since 9/11, not one American life has been lost on OUR soil. I also know that the men and women in Iraq now are reporting a dramatically different Iraq than two years ago. I know that Afghanistan continues to be a hard battle with little press coverage or appreciation for the fight there.
And I also know that I have more friends and family in Iraq right now than I ever have before: Tori, Bill, MP, Doc, Hook, JP, Ryan, and the soon-to-be-deployed Taco Bell and Free.
And I've never been more proud of them than I am right now. Tori and Ryan are on their first deployments, but all of the others are on their 2nd, 3rd, 4th deployments. They know that this war is worth the fight, or else they wouldn't keep going back- many times voluntarily.
I just wish the rest of America knew what I know, and what they know.