I had a professor in college who would say, "It's not that a thousand soldiers died, but that a soldier died a thousand times."
He was making the point that each death means something. A number doesn't convey the entirety of a human death. Each death caused by war is significant as a single event.
That single event struck my extended community last week. Nathan Beyers, 24, from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, was killed in Iraq. He was married to one of my friends from high school. They have a baby daughter.
Nearing 10 years since Sept. 11, 2001, it seems the flags of solidarity that once flew in front of nearly every house have been taken down. News stories about the wars in the Middle East have slipped to the inside of the paper and to the middle of the newscast. But it seems most people don't read or watch it anyway. Even the airport security measures seem mundane and trivial.
The signs of war that our parents and grandparents knew seem to be missing: There isn't a draft, gas prices are falling and there hasn't been any sort of rationing at all when it comes to food.
For the last nine years or so, these wars have been fought with a largely unnoticeable change to American daily life, apart from a major exception: the absence of the deployed men and women of the armed forces, and their families who miss them every second.
These people remember every day. They remember when they wake up in the morning, every night when they go to sleep and most of the time in-between.
It's strange to me, sitting in an air-conditioned office, to even consider what military men and women might be enduring overseas.
It makes me question what the impact of my generation's war will be. We won't be known as the greatest generation charged with creating a war-free world. Nor will we be the rebels who found solace in drugs and music. I'm hoping we won't be known as the ones who didn't care.
The men and women fighting in the Middle East are the ones who came of age during the very war they are currently fighting.
Our generation spent our teens becoming aware that terrorism is more than any one person or group. We lived in fear that one day someone else would try to hurt our country again. And eventually, we settled into college, work, families, travel and mortgages.
Maybe it's a survival mechanism. Perhaps always being aware that our world no longer offers the safety of our childhood has made us accustomed to that fact that it never will be that way again. Possibly, this is what normal looks like to us.
And then two Fridays ago I learned news that was not normal. I learned that a friend of mine from high school was a widow at 22. I learned that her husband, the father of her child would never return home. I learned that her life, her family's life would never be the same again.
And there is nothing normal about that.
Death isn't normal when someone is so young.
Don't wait until a 10-year anniversary, the completion of a military mission, the assassination of a terrorist leader or the opening of a war movie to remember. Remember every day that there are men and women working to protect you, me, each other and every other American from harm. Remember why they fight for our freedom. Remember the sacrifices they make every day.
We don't want to be the ones who forgot.
Stacie Spring is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.