Every age brings new wars, and every war brings public expressions of collective grief and respect for the dead. My parents’ generation had the Vietnam Memorial, and their parents’ generation now have the National World War II Memorial. Our generation has fought a very different, very difficult war in the Middle East over the past eight years; as of today, one memorial offers perhaps the most comprehensive and deeply detailed picture of the human cost to date.
A new app, Map the Fallen, gathers and aggregates information on war casualties in the Middle East from U.S. and coalition nations, giving dead servicemembers’ names, ages, pictures, hometowns, places of death, and the cause or incident of death.
The app mashes up data from Google Earth 5.0, the Department of Defense’s Statistical Information Analysis Division, icasualties.org, MilitaryTimes.com’s Honor the Fallen, the Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen, Legacy.com, GeoNames.org, and other sites to create an interactive digital map of casualties from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
There are links to memorial sites where users can sign guestbooks, leaving comments about the departed. The app also includes links to releases from the Department of Defense and local obituaries or other press coverage, when available. Map the Fallen allows users to “fly” around the globe from the dead soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine’s hometown to the place where he or she was killed. Users can also use the timeline feature to visualize how many casualties occurred at any one time or during any period of time from 2001 to the present day.
The map also includes icons pointing out places, books, news articles, photos, or other data that are geographically relevant.
Users can also record and save video “tours” of available data.
Undoubtedly somber, probably (for most of us) unbearably sad, the project is the result of four years’ work by Sean, who develops geospatial content for the Google Earth Outreach team.