During World War II, 407,317 Americans died in a fight for global democracy. The dead were heralded as representatives of the Greatest Generation and honored in books, movies and memorials. 

The Vietnam War claimed 58,220 lives in a bitter battle that divided the nation. Heroic tributes eluded both the deceased and survivors as a new generation developed a deep skepticism toward government.

And on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists killed 2,977 as the country recoiled in horror. Strict surveillance measures were embraced as the military plunged into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have lasted the better part of two decades.

The U.S. has suffered horrific death tolls throughout history, from one-day cataclysms to wars to pandemics such as the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed a staggering 675,000 Americans. Another 116,151 died in those same years fighting in World War