Three thousand wooden crosses

It's Memorial Day and we're in Santa Barbara, where war protesters have put up a wooden cross for every U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.

38 Responses to “Three thousand wooden crosses”

  1. 4-7 says:

    A memorial both sides of the debate can and should appreciate. Let’s hope the same goes for next Fall’s south quad display.

  2. Briandot says:

    What indicated that they were protesters? I can see that this would be significant for those not necessarily opposed to the war, being as it is Memorial Day.

  3. king kong says:

    congrats brendan loy

    your doing a find job!!!!

  4. Brendan Loy says:

    Briandot, there were some signs that pretty clearly indicated they were protesters, including a timeline of the war that included Bush’s “bring ’em on” quote and suchlike. That said, 4-7 is correct, both sides of the debate should be able to appreciate this memorial. I certainly wasn’t trying to knock it, I was just being descriptive.

  5. Patrick says:

    3,000 in 4 years? That’s still less than the 4,000 lost to abortion in the U.S. every single day.

  6. Sandy Underpants says:

    There’s only 4,000 abortions a year? That seems surprisingly low, although I can fully understand why you would mention that statistic in this thread.

  7. David K. says:

    There’s only 4,000 abortions a year?

    Patrick indicated that that was per day.

    3,000 in 4 years? That’s still less than the 4,000 lost to abortion in the U.S. every single day.

    Of course one need not be for one and against the other Patrick, sorry but thats an interesting but rather irrelavent point unless you have more to the argument than that.

  8. Louise B says:

    Dear Brendan,
    I agree that both sides of the debate can honor the dead, but my question is, how come only 3,000 crosses for the dead in Iraq? What about the soldiers who died in Afghanistan also fighting against the Islamoterrorists? I think ALL soldiers’ deaths should be commemorated. Perhaps your post misspoke and the crosses DO include the other losses?

    Louise B

  9. anon says:

    comparing this to abortion is idiotic. these are actual people who had actual lives, not fetuses which are not viable on their own. women will be able to choose what to do with their own bodies for the rest of our lives, deal with it.

  10. Joe Mama says:

    3,000 deaths in 4 years is indeed tragic, which brings to mind another grim fatality milestone in Iraq that was reached last week.

  11. dcl says:

    Brilliant Joe, a graph that compares apples to oranges. How about a graph that shows all military casualties as a percentage of force size–that might be interesting, and I have no idea what it would show. But Casualty numbers are something that seems to get forgotten in this debate quite often. The number of people seriously injured and permanently disabled by this war, if I recall correctly, exceeds the number of all previous wars. This is no small testament to the advances in our ability to care for wounded soldiers. But unfortunately those wounded soldiers often get forgotten in our debates.

  12. Joe Mama says:


    You’re right, comparing the 7500 military deaths during the relative peacetime of the Clinton years to the 3824 deaths so far in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are indeed like comparing “apples to oranges” (just not at all in the way you suggest) . . .

  13. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Joe, you’re an idiot.

    What the 3,824 doesn’t take into account is 1) the number of soldiers who were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan but who actually died on medical ships, transport planes, in based hospitals in Germany or in the U.S. at VA hospitals. The Bush Administration has not been counting those folks as KIA. 2) The other active duty people who have died outside of the combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past five+ years through accidents, suicide, etc. 3) Military contractors, such as Blackwater, who have been KIA serving in positions held by the U.S. Military in previous wars.

  14. Joe Mama says:

    [U]nfortunately those wounded soldiers often get forgotten in our debates.

    Unfortunately, the death toll is all that matters to many observers, not the least of which are those against the war. But speaking for myself, I’ve had the distinct honor and privilege of being at the Pentagon to witness events like this first hand, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the wounded are not forgotten, at least not by those whose concern extends beyond winning a political argument.

  15. Joe Mama says:

    No A&A, you’re the idiot. Those numbers take into account all active duty military deaths.

    I have sympathy for illiterates who actually don’t know how to read, but I have no sympathy for putzes who know how to read but don’t.

  16. Joe Mama says:

    The blogger who posted that graph has done a pretty good job of debunking all the A&A’s already.

  17. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Umm, except if you bother to actually add up the numbers in the chart, Joe Mama, the death toll under Bush is 5,187 just up to 2004 – not taking into account all Military deaths in 2005, 2006 or up to now in 2007.

    In addition, these numbers are for “active duty” military. People dying in the VA hospitcal or in a hospital in Germany are no longer “active duty.” Nor are contractors.

  18. Aaron says:

    I don’t have time to really analyze the numbers, but it seems to me that the following are all true:

    1) There will, obviously, be what we might call a “baseline death rate” for military personnell. Some of those deaths will be from training accidents, but most will be from causes not specificly related to military service; everything from cancer to crushed-by-vending-machine. For the age cohorts most common to the military, the #1 cause of death is (by far) traffic accidents.

    2) From the “death rates” chart in one of Joe Mama’s links, it seems that this baseline death rate has been gradually declining since 1980. I know traffic fatalities are down somewhat since then, so that’s part of it. There are sure to be other contributing factors.

    3) Just eyeballing the numbers, it seems that the fatality rates asocciated with the Iraq and Afghanistan deployments are (very roughly) comparable to the current baseline death rate. I expect that the final tally of military deaths during the Bush years will be about double those during the Clinton years

    4) Several thousand more American soldiers are dead than would otherwise have been had we not invaded Iraq.

    5) That number is low by historical war standards.

    6) What you make of (4) and (5) will largely depend on your opinion of the Iraq war independent of those figures.

  19. Sean says:

    Ooh! Ooh! I can hijack the thread for one of my own personal pet causes, too! Watch:

    Largely secular countries have less abortions – along with less violence in general – than largely religious countries. (Source: Sam Harris, as quoted in the ABC Nightline debate between The Rational Response Squad and The Way of the Master.)

  20. Angrier and Angrier says:


    I would like to point out that the way the U.S. government defined KIA in previous wars is different than the way we are doing it now. Bush isn’t counting the wounded who die outside of the combat zones as KIA and they are not counted as active duty military. In previous wars these people would have been deemed combat dead.

  21. Aaron says:


    No offense, but from one Bush Hater to another, your claim sets off my bullshit-detector. Can you provide a source?

    Here’s a list of out-of-theater fatalities. There are a little over a hundred of them. You’ll note that for each name there’s a link to a DoD press release. What is your specific claim? That these casulaties are not included in the overall totals the DoD reports? That should be easy for a reporter to check. Or is your claim that there is a whole other list of fatalities that doesn’t get reported at all? Again, a source would be great.



    Sam Harris rocks.

  22. dcl says:

    Such a distinction also lets the Bush administration cheep out on their responsibilities to families of fallen soldiers on should add–an action which is quite disgraceful, and is far from “supporting our troops”. But then we have morons running around with “Support our President” in big type and then a little addendum “and our troops” in little type. Morons with that bumper-sticker on their car have their priorities seriously ass backwards. Actually, I’m not really sure if it is possible to do both at the same time. So I’ll stick with supporting our troupes and I’d be quite happy if the President and Vice President would do so also by resigning.

  23. Sandy Underpants says:

    I thought our military was totally incompetent thus far in wartime, but clearly when they kill more than 7,000 of themselves for 8 years during peacetime they are truly a sorry bunch imbeciles.

  24. Angrier and Angrier says:


    I will try to track down a good site for you. However, the list you reference only has 100 for the past four years, which falls way short of the other DoD list Joe Mama linked to. In other words, the link you provided is hardly comprehensive, meaning that the folks posting it are full of shit, even when compared to official DoD numbers readily available on the web.

  25. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Sorry, Aaron. Not Sean.

  26. Aaron says:

    falls way short of the other DoD list Joe Mama linked

    Which link are you referring to? What list are you referring to? Help me out here.

  27. David K. says:

    Yes Sean, clearly only religoius people commite violence and have abortions, and atheists are a bastion of decency and goodness. We should all live up to the fine example set by such great visionaries as Josef Stalin and Chariman Mao and shy away from behaving like those horrid religious folk like Gandhi, Dr. King, and Mother Teresa.

  28. David K. says:

    I thought our military was totally incompetent thus far in wartime, but clearly when they kill more than 7,000 of themselves for 8 years during peacetime they are truly a sorry bunch imbeciles.

    I haven’t heard anyone refer to our soldiers as incompetent, just the leadership.

  29. Sandy Underpants says:

    Well if Joe Mama’s stats are correct, (and who would question Joe Mama?) and more US troops were killed during peacetime under Clinton than killed during war with Iraq, than in fact that is evidence of total incompetence on the part of our armed forces.

    I don’t think Bill Clinton should shoulder much of the blame on this, however the generals and folks who run the training of the military ought to be charged with the label of “incompetence” at the very least. Who could disagree?

  30. Aaron says:

    Here is a table similar to the one Joe Mama linked to, but giving the rates per 100,000 active duty personnel, and updated to include 2005 and 2006.

    And Sandy, here is a table of accidental death rates among the general U.S. population. Does that answer your question?

    One more time. Total military fatalties during the Iraq war are not down from the 90’s, they are up. They are up because lots of soldiers are dying in Iraq. Still, fatalaties are low compared to previous wars, and are lower than, for example, the accidental death rate among active duty military personnel in the 80’s. Whether you think the Iraq war deaths (including, one shouldn’t have to say, Iraqi deaths) are a catastrophic waste of human life or the tragic but necessary cost of a necessary war… depends on what you think of the war.

  31. domer06 says:

    I don’t think Sandy was being serious. I doubt anyone with common sense, even without any knowledge of the military, would believe that makes soldiers incompetent. they’re dealing with guns, bombs, choppers, jumping out of planes, etc. as they emulate combat situations in the most realistic way possible.

    The United States military is not an amusement park trying to protect itself from liability. It is training young men and women for the most dangerous situations imaginable.

    No matter how isolated one gets in typing legal briefs, growing up in a protected suburban first world life, and playing video games, its unlikely that s/he would think that military training offers that kind of protection. anyone who plays sports knows that people get hurt in scrimmages and practice- that doesnt make the players incompetent.

  32. Alasdair says:

    domer06 – remember the Rules …

    If soldiers die under a PResident, it is the fault of the CommandeR-in-Chief and his PaRty …

    If soldiers die under a PresiDent, it is the fault of some level of solDier, and not at all that of the CommanDer-in-Chief …

  33. Alasdair says:

    Aaron – interesting numbers …

    Interesting that the self-inflicted deaths started to rise statistically significantly during the period when the Democrats controlled House, Senate, and White House …

    Interesting that during 2002-2005, none of the deaths were due to “Terrorist Action” …

  34. Rebecca Loy says:

    I’m astonished that so few US soldiers have died in this war. That’s no comment on the validity of the war itself or of the number of Iraqis killed or anything of that sort. I’m just impressed because you’d think that if you put a bunch of young people around guns and people who want to kill them, more US soldiers would end up dead. It makes me think that the Iraqi resistance isn’t all that effective at killing soldiers and I can’t imagine what the point of killing fellow Iraqis is.

  35. Joe Mama says:

    The point of killing fellow Iraqis is to foment sectarian violence, which feeds the perception that Iraq is in a civil war, which supports the anti-war element in this country advocating withdrawal.

    If you think those fighting for a U.S. defeat abroad don’t pay attention to U.S. domestic politics, just read up on General Giap’s strategy against the U.S. in Vietnam.

  36. Joe Mama says:

    I hasten to add that I’m not implying that the anti-war element is in any way in league with the insurgents fomenting violence in Iraq. There are perfectly valid reasons to be against this war, or against continuing it at this point. I’m simply pointing out the logic behind the Iraqi resistance killing fellow Iraqis, in response to Rebecca Loy’s question.

  37. Alasdair says:

    Becky – “It makes me think that the Iraqi resistance isn’t all that effective at killing soldiers and I can’t imagine what the point of killing fellow Iraqis is.”

    The Iraqi Resistance basically *isn’t* … it isn’t good at killing US soldiers and it isn’t good at resistance mostly because it isn’t an *Iraqi* resistance …

    What we are seeing is more like rival gangs in Visalia attacking each other at the orders of a bigger gang in Los Angeles … they are being used, and are not smart enough to know it …

    There are certain characteristics to a Civil War, like the military/militia of one side fighting the military/militia of another side – and the fighting in Iraq just doesn’t qualify … well, not in the minds of rational folk – it may well qualify in the minds of those who consider the Crips vs the Bloods fighting means that the US is in a Civil War – but not in the minds of those who have paid more than a smidgin of attention to genuine civil wars over the centuries …

    What we are seeing is the actions of terrorists incited by and funded by people and organisations outside Iraq – groups that are basically quite happy to persuade someone else to fight and die in their place … after all, why should they risk themselves when they can con some idealistic kids to die instead ?

    As I have said to one of my friends who, in spite of being intelligent, is a “Surrender ASAP” believer, I’ll believe that the Coalition forces are in difficulties in Iraq when there are more Coalition troops being killed than Iraqi civilians being killed … and when the re-enlistment rates of those who have fought over there takes a sudden and sustained nose-dive …