Sunday, April 19, 2015

Over 58,000 replica dog tags...

Over 58,000 replica dog tags...  This is an art installation at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago.  It does not (yet) have a permanent home.  Each replica dog tag is stamped with the name of a soldier or civilian who was killed in Vietnam, or died as a result of service in Vietnam.

Seeing this brings to mind once again the amazing reduction in the lethality (for Americans) of war over the past couple hundred years.  The Vietnam war was ongoing in my youth, and I served (not in combat, thank goodness) in the Navy at the end of it.  I knew several people who died in Vietnam; mainly fellow high school students.  In WWII, the big war of my parents' generation, over 400,000 Americans died.  That's almost eight times the number of dead as in Vietnam, and remember that America's population grew by leaps and bounds between WWII and Vietnam, so proportionally it's an even bigger jump.  Now in the War on Terror (including the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War), total American deaths are around 6,700 – a fraction of those in the Vietnam War, and again, America's population has grown significantly between the Vietnam War and the War on Terror.  I didn't know anyone personally who died in the War on Terror, though I do know a few people who lost family members.

The cost in American blood of a war is falling fast.  I have mixed reactions to that.  On the one hand, I can't help but celebrate the fact that fewer Americans are killed in wars.  On the other hand, the lower cost makes it easier (politically) to start a war...

1 comment:

  1. The general population is very removed from what is happening and go about their daily lives with no sense of loss of sacrifice. Though I had to point out that even in WWII, it was written by our troops how they felt the same way. Such as when a union would threaten strike during the war.