I confess that I haven’t always felt it, even as I tallied the rise in the number of deaths in Iraq, then Iraq and Afghanistan separately, and printed them in the paper every week. Some weeks, sitting at a computer screen and doing the weekly math in the midst of a busy deadline rush, I could have been compiling baseball box scores. Even though I insisted that we always run the number if at all possible, and that we would run it “as long as it keeps climbing,” as I wrote in June 2011, some weeks it was just a number to me. I saw the mini-portraits on the CNN site each week. I read the names and the hometowns as I scanned the lists. I knew they were American soldiers who had been killed—that was the point—but the steady stream of them tended to blur them as individuals. A big jump in the number—a dozen deaths to a tally in just seven days—stood out, obviously. In August, the crash of a loaded Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan made that number jump by more than 40 dead in a single week, but even as I winced, it was in many ways just a big number, a formidable statistic as much as a human tragedy.