The United States passed 500,000 reported deaths from Covid-19 yesterday which — as the President noted — is more than all the American war dead from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined.
And yet, as a lot of people have noted, it doesn’t feel like we’ve lost half a million Americans.
Part of the reason for that is that we’ve mostly lost the elderly and the frail. Almost half of the people we’ve lost were lost in nursing homes. These are mostly people who already didn’t have much quality of life, most of whom didn’t have many years left. And even among those who did not die in nursing homes, the majority of those people were elderly, 65, 75 or up, or with co-morbidities.
This is very different from the way we view soldiers who’ve died in wartime. We still have a tendency, collectively, to valorize soldiers in a way that we do not do for other people.
And (of course) soldiers are mostly young people still in the prime of their lives. But it was also the valorizing of soldiers, the glorifying of warfare, that was a big piece of the beginning of World War I. It is the glamorizing of ware that still motivates politicians to go to war, thinking that they’re doing something especially honorable.
From my perspective, every time we go to war it proves that we’ve failed. We’ve failed to find a more productive way to resolve whatever conflict it is that drove us in the first place.