Friday, November 11, 2005

Notes on Veterans Day

In observation of the 2,000th Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) American servicemember's death, the Notes on Veterans Day
In observation of the 2,000th Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) American servicemember's death, the Army Times last week published a fairly comprehensive statistical breakdown of who has been killed, by age, race, grade, hometown, branch of service, reserve, guard, active, etc... The figures for each of those categories are sobering and sad. The graphics above, however, are the ones that put the biggest knot in my throat. The numbers show that while 17 - 19 year old "men and women" make up only 6.9% of the total Department of Defense population, they represent nevertheless 46.1% of the total killed thus far in the conflict (918 Americans who'll never see their 20th birthday). This group is closely followed by the 20-24 year olds, who comprise 33.2 % of those who've died, meaning that 79.3% of the total dead attributed to this war were 24 years old or younger, representing as of last week, a total of 1,579 young Americans. And of course, even looking at these staggering numbers, we're leaving behind the number of men and women who have been seriously and permanently injured (or damaged) since the hostilities began, a figure that dwarfs the numbers outlined above. The numbers aren't quite so sterile when you try to put a face and a family behind each of them, which I hope we'll all try to do. This seemed a fitting approach for Veterans Day, when we're exhorted to remember, and hopefully, to think critically about what this all means to us as a country...b/20051210030810/http://www.armytimes.com/">Army Times last week published a fairly comprehensive statistical breakdown of who has been killed, by age, race, grade, hometown, branch of service, reserve, guard, active, etc... The figures for each of those categories are sobering and sad. The graphics above, however, are the ones that put the biggest knot in my throat. The numbers show that while 17 - 19 year old "men and women" make up only 6.9% of the total Department of Defense population, they represent nevertheless 46.1% of the total killed thus far in the conflict (918 Americans who'll never see their 20th birthday). This group is closely followed by the 20-24 year olds, who comprise 33.2 % of those who've died, meaning that 79.3% of the total dead attributed to this war were 24 years old or younger, representing as of last week, a total of 1,579 young Americans. And of course, even looking at these staggering numbers, we're leaving behind the number of men and women who have been seriously and permanently injured (or damaged) since the hostilities began, a figure that dwarfs the numbers outlined above. The numbers aren't quite so sterile when you try to put a face and a family behind each of them, which I hope we'll all try to do. This seemed a fitting approach for Veterans Day, when we're exhorted to remember, and hopefully, to think critically about what this all means to us as a country...