Monday, March 31, 2008

Military Monday. 4000: A Different Perspective

Last week the United States passed the "grim milestone" of 4000 dead in Iraq. I've always hated the way these casualty numbers are utilized, either to rail against solemnly justify the Iraq war. Not that they shouldn't be, depending upon your view. There's just no perspective in this real and tragic number. It's a throw-away statistic that will be valid for a limited time only, until we hit the next milestone, as if 4500 or 5000 were waiting in the wings to take us to "the next level".

And while most of us continue on, watching the big numbers get bigger, Lieutenant Sean Walsh, USA, clings to two very small numbers in comparison: 8 and 3.

"The passing of the 4,000th service member in Iraq is a tragic milestone and a testament to the cost of this war, but for those of us who live and fight in Iraq, we measure that cost in smaller, but much more personal numbers. For me those numbers are 8, the number of friends and classmates killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 3, the number of soldiers from my unit killed in this deployment. I'm 25, yet I've received more notifications for funerals than invitations to weddings."

Full article here.

Finally, numbers that mean something. And they are politically "neutral". Just or unjust, few or many, the cost is always the same.


Dr. Momentum said...

This Week with George Stephanopoulos has "In Memoriam" every week, and it doesn't matter what the number is for that week, nor where they come from. I feel it in the pit of my stomach every time.

Stickthulhu said...

Yes, I know the feeling well.

The "Remembrances" portion of NPR's Weekend Edition does a very good job of making a personal connection.