On Sept. 7, four American soldiers lost
their lives in Iraq. Had these deaths occurred at another point in
the conflict, the soldiers would have become just another number to
some Americans, part of the steadily rising death toll in the war.
Yet, there is an artificial significance to the passing of these
young people: The death toll of U.S. soldiers in the Iraq war has
now passed 1,000.
Now is a time to honor not only the four men who died, but also
the hundreds who lost their lives before them. Students should be
especially cognizant of the rising death toll, because the young,
as they do in all wars, are bearing the majority of the burden of
combat. According to the Associated Press, nearly six in 10 of the
U.S. soldiers that have died in Iraq were between the ages of 18
Representing the deaths with numbers does a great disservice to
those lives. Symbols are vacuous. They become a barrier to
The number of deaths in Iraq is larger than the number of
students who live in East Quadrangle Residence Hall. Each one of
the students in East Quad has a story — a compelling life
story, just as there is a story behind the end of every life in
Iraq. Every soldier has a family, friends and has lived a life
filled with all the richness that colors any human life. Numbers
cannot tell these stories.
At the same time, about 7,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded,
some so seriously that their lives and the lives of their families
will never be as they were before the war.
And analysts believe that more than 10,000 Iraqis have been
killed since the war began. This number receives far too little
More than 80 percent of the U.S. soldiers who have died in this
war died after President Bush declared major combat operations
over. The situation on the ground in Iraq is dangerous now, as it
was dangerous then. More soldiers will die; this is an unfortunate
reality. Our fearful trip is not done.