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Today is the 17th Memorial Day since 9/11. Since then, 6,940 U.S. military service members have died for America.

Why it matters: Every part of the country has lost soldiers to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All were Americans — someone's neighbor, child, parent, mentor, buddy. Their average age was between 26 and 27 years old.

Expand chart
Data: Defense Casualty Analysis System, U.S. Census Bureau 2016 population estimates; Note: Map does not include 111 servicemembers who came from outside the 50 states; Get the data; Map: Harry Stevens/Axios

The big picture: The losses have not been distributed evenly. The Bible Belt, the Rust Belt, and the Midwest had the most military deaths in proportion to their populations – though that's often because counties in those regions have small populations that skew the data. Among counties with a population greater than one million, Bexar County, Tex., home to San Antonio, suffered the highest rate of military deaths for its population: 59 servicemembers killed out of a population of 1,928,680.

Many of the dead came from big cities — 167 hailed from Los Angeles County, the most of any county. Others came from more remote places, like Mineral County, Colo., population 732, home to Sgt. Clinton Wayne Ahlquist, who was killed in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Feb. 20, 2007, at the age of 23. Of all U.S. counties, Mineral County has the highest rate of servicemembers killed in proportion to population.

By the numbers:

  • Most of the fallen — 5,019 men and women — served in the Army. Another 1,484 were in the Marines, while 248 were in the Navy, and 189 were in the Air Force.
  • The state with the highest rate of servicemembers killed was Vermont — the state lost 26 troops out of a population of about 624,000. The state with the lowest rate was nearby Connecticut.
  • 6,772 of the fallen were men, and 168 were women.

Correction: Due to a data analysis error, the populations of 36 counties in Louisiana were incorrect. As a result, an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that three parishes in Louisiana were among the top five places in the country for military deaths per population. The map and story have been updated to reflect the correct data.

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Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

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