May 27, 2009
Map of the Fallen
Posted by Nancy Youssef
Over Memorial Day weekend, a friend pointed me toward a new blog that tracks the death of every soldier, airman, sailor and Marine who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq, from every coalition country no less, and places a marker on the map in that person’s hometown.
When you click on the figure, a box comes up with all the public information available about that person " like where that person was killed, his/her age and links to pages about that serviceperson.
It’s a breathtaking site. Each little figure " so often counted as statistic " comes to life as soon as you click and read that person’s story, however brief. The numbers from the United States are staggering but it is helpful to spin the globe, as only Google Earth can let you, and see the impact on other nations.
According to the site, the map began as a personal project for San Francisco resident Sean Askay while he was in graduate school. Four years later, the now web designer posted it just before Memorial Day.
He acknowledges that even this phenomenal amount of information sorting doesn’t capture the full scope of the losses endured by these wars. Here is in part what Sean’s posts about his effort: “I recognize that this map is just a slice of the story in these conflicts. The Iraqi and Afghan people have incurred substantial civilian losses through these wars; there are also U.S. and Coalition civilians, contractors, and reporters who have died as well. For this project, I've chosen to focus on the U.S. and Coalition military casualties, but I recognize that the losses extend beyond what is mapped in this project.”
As someone who spent years watching the war unfold in Iraq and now as a Pentagon reporter who travels to both Iraq and Afghanistan, the site was moving to me, an acknowledgment that every loss counts and that no community in the United States is spared, however distant the wars may feel.
So if you so inclined, check out the map. To download it, look to the top right hand corner of the web page. You will need Google Earth 5.0 to see it.