I attended West Point a time of peace. While I was there, the thought of classmates dying at war was theoretical. We were more concerned about making it to graduation and seeing what waited for us in the "real" Army. Sometimes we couldn't even see graduation, the focus was on surviving the month, the week, the day. I knew I would be entering "the profession of arms," but I never realistically considered the full meaning and possible consequences of that profession.
The class of 1997 has lost too many classmates in war -- it's not a big number until you consider there were less than 900 of us. Not a big number until you attach faces, names, spouses, children, siblings, friends and classmates to those we have lost. Not every death has been from war, but most of my classmates that have died were in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Life is unfair, but it doesn't mean it hurts any less when we experience the unfairness.