(h/t Russ, S&R)
I love love love Google Earth. I can easily spend hours swooping all over the globe, looking at satellite pictures of the homes of friends and family, favorite vacation spots and dream destinations.
Sean, part of the content design team for Google Earth, has put together a special application for the program that is perfect for this Memorial Day: Map the Fallen.
This Memorial Day I would like to share with you a personal project of mine that uses Google Earth to honor the more than 5,700 American and Coalition servicemen and women that have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have created a map for Google Earth that will connect you with each of their stories—you can see photos, learn about how they died, visit memorial websites with comments from friends and families, and explore the places they called home and where they died. [..]
For this project I collected information from a number of sources, including the Department of Defense's Statistical Information Analysis Division, icasualties.org, MilitaryTimes.com's Honor the Fallen, Washington Post's Faces of the Fallen, the Iraq and Afghanistan Pages, and Legacy.com. I used the Google Maps and GeoNames.org geocoding services to get coordinates for each person's home of record and approximate place of death. The map includes data through March 2009. I'd like to point out the incredible time commitment the above organizations invest in maintaining this information; as I've learned, it is not an easy task. All of the data I have assembled and generated for this project will be made freely available for download in the near future.
During this project, I have sought the advice and perspectives of several groups directly tied to these losses, including Gold Star families, veterans' groups, active-duty servicemen and women, and leadership in the United States Army. I've done my best to incorporate their feedback and suggestions in creating something that pays tribute to the memory and service of these fallen heroes. Out of respect for the families of those people on this map who have taken their own lives, I have chosen to describe these deaths as coming from "non-combat" related causes. This is a broad category used by the Department of Defense to define other causes of death resulting from accidents or illness.
I recognize that this map is just a slice of the story in these conflicts. The Iraqi and Afghani people have incurred substantial civilian losses through these wars; there are also U.S. and Coalition civilians, contractors, and reporters who have died as well. For this project, I've chosen to focus on the U.S. and Coalition military casualties, but I recognize that the losses extend beyond what is mapped in this project.
Each figure on the map denotes a servicemember lost during the last six years. Tied to their hometown, each figure pops up a screen that gives information about that fallen troop. In addition, families can add photos, audio and a guestbook for others to give their remembrance and honor their service.
Please, take some time to look through Map the Fallen and honor the sad sacrifice these men and women have made.