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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

The number of U.S. servicemen and women killed in Iraq now ticks upward from 3,000, the milestone reached yesterday. It's a number that calls for some context. Come March, the Iraq War will be third-longest in U.S. history after the Revolutionary War and Vietnam.

And as NPR's Guy Raz tells us, the number 3,000 only tells part of the story.

GUY RAZ: If you were wounded in combat during World War II, you had a one in three chance of dying from your injuries. But in Iraq, 90 percent of troops who are wounded survive. Now, I'm going to slow down for a moment so you can absorb some of these numbers. Three thousand U.S. troops, 69 of them women, have died in Iraq. In the history of warfare, it's a tiny number.

But more than 22,000 troops have been badly injured. In previous wars, many of them would have died, and that's the point military historian Eliot Cohen wants to make as we mark this grim milestone.

Mr. ELIOT COHEN (Military Historian): We're now suffering a ratio of wounded to dead something on the order of seven or eight to one, whereas previous historical norms were closer to three to one in the 20th century and sometimes even one to one in the 19th century.

RAZ: Many of those 22,000 wounded, brave and fit, athletic and strong, are learning to walk again, now on prosthetic limbs, or learning how to read again after suffering brain damage. Colonel Douglas McGregor is a Vietnam combat veteran. He's a former Pentagon official and now, after initially backing the Iraqi War, he's one of its most vocal critics.

Colonel DOUGLAS McGREGOR (U.S. Army): No one wants to stand up and tell the American people we have caused an enormous damage in this country. We've killed large numbers of people. This whole goal of Democratic transformation was a fraud and an illusion, and the best thing we can do is leave. No one wants to stand up and say that.

RAZ: Buried among the millions of self-indulgent videos on YouTube are also memorials, remembrances of those who died in Iraq, men like 23-year-old Marine Colonel Bobby Warns II. He was killed south of Baghdad in November, 2004.

Unidentified Child #1: Bobby was a (unintelligible) Marine.

Unidentified Child #2: Bobby was a lover of music.

Unidentified Child #3: Bobby was a hero.

Unidentified Child #4: Bobby was a trickster.

Unidentified Woman #1: Bobby was a joker.

Unidentified Woman #2: Bobby was a cyclist.

Unidentified Woman #3: Bobby was a helper.

Unidentified Man #1: Bobby was an entertainer. Bobby was a playmate.

Unidentified Woman #4: Bobby was an artist.

Unidentified Woman #5: Bobby was a daddy.

Unidentified Woman #6: Bobby was a lover.

Unidentified Man #2: Bobby was a free spirit.

RAZ: Just a few weeks before Staff Sergeant Dwayne Williams was killed in Anbar Province last August, he produced a promotional video for the Army. It was called "Why I Serve."

Staff Sergeant DWAYNE WILLIAMS (U.S. Army): Staff Sergeant Dwayne E. Williams. I thought there may be a good change in my life, something that I needed at the time.

RAZ: Three thousand troops, two-thirds of them from the Army, most of the rest Marines. Army Private First Class Nathaniel Given, 21 years old. He was killed a few days ago in Anbar Province. Army Sergeant First Class Rudy Salcedo, 31 years old, killed in Baghdad on November 9, 2006. Army Sergeant Jennifer Hartman, 21, of New Ringgold, Pennsylvania, killed in Baghdad in September. Just three names, three of 3,000 now killed in Iraqi.

Guy Raz, NPR News, Washington.

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