Monday, May 28, 2007

Dying in the Fullness of Their Promise

"War is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in this world. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

These words were delivered on January 12, 1966 in the President's State of the Union address. Though he was cognizant of the terrible costs and utter insanity of war, Johnson was nonetheless arguing for the necessity of U.S. military intervention in a far-off land. What has changed or been learned in the decades since?

It is Memorial Day, 2007. American soldiers are at war in a far-off land. As of this moment, 3,455 U.S. troops have perished in Iraq. An analysis of those who have fallen reveals some sobering data about the terrible costs of this war. Though he was wrong about Vietnam, President Johnson was unerringly right about soldiers "dying in the fullness of their promise":

• The average age of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq is approximately 26 (25.98) years old.
• More than three-quarters (75.95%) of those killed have been under the age of 30 (2,624).
• 230 teenage soldiers (aged 18-19) have been killed in Iraq.
• On average, U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq lost two-thirds of their expected lives (given the average life expectancy of an American).
• Collectively, the total number of expected years of life lost by U.S. soldiers is 179,728 years.

Originally posted at