The media keeps a running tab on the number of American servicemen and women killed in Iraq, the purpose of which, evidently is to hasten the day when the public decides it has had enough. Never is it mentioned, when this tally is updated, how remarkably low a number it really is. After four years of fighting the number of American military deaths has just topped 2500, roughly the same number of troops who died on a single day, D-Day at Normandy, during WWII.
In the Pacific during WWII we lost 6900 Marines taking Iwo Jima and 13,000 troops securing Okinawa.
Twenty eight thousand Confederates and 23,000 Union troops died at Gettysburg in three days.
Shifting perspective away from combat casualties, in the four years from 2001 through 2004 traffic fatalities in the U.S. exceeded 153,000, homicides in 2005 alone surpassed 16,900, and approximately 1200 people nationwide have died from heat exposure since 2003.
Indeed, an American is almost safer in the military in Iraq than in some American cities where the number of murders exceeds 300 per year.
Twenty five hundred deaths over four years is a terrible statistic, and the families of the dead find no consolation in comparisons such as this one. Nevertheless, politicians have to look at the cost through the lens of historical and actuarial realities, and in that perspective the number of military deaths is remarkably low, especially considering the extraordinarily high stakes involved in the Iraqi undertaking.