For my (mainly) American friends, file this under "why you don't understand Europe":
The Vietnam War was a war that scarred the national psyche and dramatically changed the tone of American foreign policy for a generation. If you visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC today, you will find roughly 58,000 names of fallen soldiers from that period. Now imagine if instead of losing 58,000 soldiers, the United States lost 2.5 million during the Vietnam War. For a country like the US of roughly 300 million people, that kind of casualty rate would mean that virtually every household in America would be touched by combat death, whether it's a father, son, brother, uncle, friend or neighbor. Then 25-30 years later, which is roughly the span between the Vietnam War and 9/11, the country got involved in another conflict with a similar death toll.
Imagine the resulting national trauma.
That's what happened to many European countries in the First and Second World Wars - and the losses quoted would be roughly what the equivalent losses are for the US on an equivalent per capita basis on par with many European countries.
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