copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Their names and faces are known. Yet, these servicemen and women remain invisible for most Americans. Their families suffer, and have for years. When the troops were abroad, relatives worried. Now that these four thousand are gone from Earth forever, the persons that love them still wish to bring them back. Semper fidelis, always faithful and forlorn.
They were our soldiers, the American troops that served to protect us. These military men and women took up arms to fight off terrorists. They battled aggressors. They [supposedly] kept us free from another attack. Nevertheless, these persons were powerless against an Administration unbridled with absolute authority.
None of those killed could stop the invasion into Iraq. Upon entrance into the service, soldiers understood war was an option. However, few could have imagined the reality or the risk. Courageous lads and lasses sent to the Persian Gulf feared what could be a certain fate, death. Yet, they marched on. Soldiers true to their country, had a mission. They were intent on the hope of an accomplishment.
One in six were not old enough to legally buy a beer. Nearly two dozen had lived long enough to qualify for an American Association of Retired Persons [AARP] card. Eleven passed as the folks at home in the States sliced a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. An identical number fell while the people celebrated the birth of Christ. Five were slain on the anniversary of their births. The surname Smith belonged to one percent of the dead soldiers.
- Ninety-eight percent were male (compared with 99.9% of those lost in Vietnam). Three-quarters were non-Hispanic white (compared with 86% in Vietnam). The most common age was 21 (20 in Vietnam).
- Nine percent were officers, including 24 lieutenant colonels and six colonels.
- More of the fallen were based at Fort Hood in Texas than at any other military installation.
- New York City, which has lost 62 residents, had more deaths than any other hometown.
- More than half of the nearly 4,000 (52%) were killed by bombs, 16% by enemy gunfire. Five percent died in aircraft crashes. Fifty-five people drowned, and 15 were electrocuted. Almost one in five died from what the military terms "non-hostile" causes.
- Since the war began in March 2003, the Pentagon has reported double-digit U.S. fatalities on 35 days. The bloodiest was Jan. 26, 2005, when a Marine helicopter crashed in a sandstorm, killing all 31 aboard, and six other service members died in combat. The bloodiest month was November 2004, when 137 died; the least bloody was February 2004, when 21 were lost. On 460 days of the war, no service member died.
How many American soldiers were wounded? Can we calculate the ones whose scars cannot be seen? What of the families and friends affected? One heart, mind, body, or soul tortured wounds more than a single individual. Savage combat destroys a society.
~ Thomas Edison [Scientist, Inventor]
As of this evening, five years and four days after the first bomb blast, four thousand American troops have fallen in Iraq. The carnage is incomprehensible. Countless civilians were massacred. War, or mass murder, was waged in the name of the American people, and yet, the people on terra firma sit idly by.
~ Albert Einstein [Physicist]
For month's United States citizens, cozy, and comfortable in America have allowed themselves to be distracted. Combat seemed less crucial than an economic crisis. Presidential politics has entertained the electorate. The situation in Iraq is less sexy than a juicy scandal or a sensational sermon. Tonight as the four thousandth soldier took a last breath might we contemplate the meaning of this milestone.
These numberrs represent only the Americans. What of the innocent Iraqis now perished. If we are to truly tally the losses, we must consider the millions of Iraqi civilians displaced, A year ago, there were four  million refugees.
- The wounded figure since March 19, 2003, is now well above 29,000. It is far, far higher than the number killed, and often has a more lasting impact on those who sacrifice as a human tragedy and in terms of costs. If one counts the number of men and women whose lives have been virtually destroyed by critical combat wounds and adds that total to the number killed, we reached 4,000 long ago. Far too much media coverage focuses only on "killed." There needs to be balance in counting all of the wounded, and far more attention paid to the number of critical physical and psychological wounds and disability cases. In many ways, news reporting on the "stats" of the fighting now covers only half the sacrifice of those who serve in uniform. . . .
- No one can really predict at this time whether we will be able to sharply reduce the future rate of casualties during 2009-2010, and move to "strategic overwatch" and reliance on the ISF for almost all the fighting. We could see a failure of political conciliation lead to more intense U.S. fighting and a new rise in casualty rates or even to U.S. withdrawal. The odds of success in Iraq now seem higher than those of defeat, and events seem more likely to steadily reduce U.S. casualties, but there are no certainties.
- As for the present, all the same data that show a major decline in U.S. and Iraqi casualties since last summer also show that the reduction of casualties has now plateaued and may be rising. Al Qaeda and the extreme elements of the JAM have every incentive to find ways to raise the U.S. casualties between now and November, and will be seeking ways to use bombings to raise the rate and number. These attacks may be far more important over the months to come than the 4,000 figure.
- There is a great deal of talk about the ultimate future dollar cost of the war if we stay. Much of this discussion somewhat unrealistically assumes that the dollar cost of fighting and aid remains relatively constant. In practice, success in moving to strategic overwatch and shifting the burden to the ISF and Iraqi government expenditures would actually sharply reduce the out year dollar costs. The same is true of the longer term trends in killing and wounded.
- But, if we are in Iraq through the end of the next administration, the real benchmark may still be more than 5,000 killed and 15,000-20,000 more wounded before the costs in blood are over.
Could we count the Persians and Americans deeply disturbed. As the instigators of battle we, the people of this "peaceful" nation must ponder the thousands, perhaps, millions mentally and emotionally impaired, adults, and the children who will never be the same. The scars are deep; the sorrow deeper. Will we, the American people allow the bloodshed to be our birthright. Are 'lives lost' the legacy we wish to leave our children.
By the time this treatise is read, the totals will probably be incorrect, the data outdated One more life will have been taken. Another will soon depart. Those who live and suffer will not be evaluated, and few will reflect on the sign hung in Albert Einstein's Princeton office.
May we stop for a moment, maybe more. Might we bring the troops home now, before one more body falls. Lets us all rest in peace before we are buried alive by the effects of a wasteful war.
Sources and Scars . . .