Saturday, February 10, 2007

War Deaths - A Perspective

A contributor to a Forum of the Contra Costa Times (California, in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area) has a recurring post about the number of average daily American combat deaths, about three per day, during the past four months. I posted a reply to give some of our ignorant and uninformed citizenry an historical perspective on war deaths.

I am guessing that most of them think that sending United States military into harm’s way is a uniquely Republican practice.

Most young Americans would be shocked to find that until the Bush presidencies, Democrat presidents led us into our wars of the 20th Century.

President Wilson, a Democrat, led us into World War I.

Many probably don’t know that World War II was conducted under Democrat presidents Roosevelt and Truman - and for the most part, conducted well, although there were a lot of problems during the Occupation of Japan and Germany after the war ended.

Over sixty years later, and we still seem to have problems with occupations.

Few Americans know the Korean War began under President Truman, a Democrat, and the cease fire was brokered under President Eisenhower, a Republican.

Most of them probably don’t know that the Vietnam War was started and primarily conducted by two Democrat presidents, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and that the peace agreement came under President Nixon, a Republican, in 1973.

I’m sure a lot don’t know most the war in Vietnam was a Democrat undertaking, because I hear many on the Left trying to rewrite history by calling it “Nixon’s war.”

The following is my post to the Contra Costa Times Forum.

In 1968, the last year of LBJ's pathetic presidency, the war JFK started and LBJ (both Democrats, you know) bungled, reached its bloodiest point for American combat deaths. Each day on average 45 were killed. (An estimated 1500 Vietnamese were killed each day.) In an average six month period in 1968, more US military were killed than the total to date for Iraq and Afghanistan since combat began at the start of the first Gulf War in 1990.

We lost twice as many in a little over a month when we attacked the Japanese on Iwo Jima in World War II. The Japanese lost about 20,000 there, or three times as many dead.

Then we invaded Okinawa, and in 82 days lost 12,000 US (142 deaths per day), and the Japanese/Okinawans lost 250,000 (3,049 deaths per day), a little more than half of them Okinawan civilians.

War is hellish, but there was no war in Rwanda when Clinton avoided acknowledging and doing something about the genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days (do the math, 8,000 deaths a day).

All American war deaths are tragic, and I'll grant that some, but far from all, of the enemy's war deaths are tragic too. But it is interesting how we have lost perspective and context on war deaths over the years. Or on death itself.

For example, each year 40,000 Americans (110 per day) die in auto accidents. How many of you support ending the Driving War?

I'm not callous about war deaths. I served in the Air Force from 1962 until retirement in 1984, and my oldest son did almost a year in Iraq and probably will be going back for another Army tour soon. We know first hand the hardships and tragedies of military service for both the member and the family.

Most Americans don't.

On a very personal basis, I wrote these about military service and my family:

Sober Reflections on Memorial Day - Trying to find my place in Memorial Day.

They Also Served - Marilynn and our three sons were in the front lines too.

Table of American Vietnam War Deaths by year:

Year of Death or Declaration of Death - Number of Records

1956 to 1960 - 9
1961 - 16
1962 - 52
1963 - 118
1964 - 206
1965 - 1,863
1966 - 6,143
1967 - 11,153
1968 - 16,592
1969 - 11,616
1970 - 6,081
1971 - 2,357
1972 - 641
1973 - 168
1974 - 178
1975 - 161
1976 - 77
1977 - 96
1978 - 447
1979 - 148
1980 - 26
1981 to 1990 - 34
1991 to 1998 - 11
Total - 58,193
Please click on the label below to see all my articles on this topic.

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