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"I didn't understand what it was all about," she said. "It was all confusing to me."

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The 19 year old was in fifth grade and can recall her teachers talking about the invasion and seeing images of the troops moving across the desolate desert. Over the years, she would pay attention to the war when a Ventura County soldier died, but otherwise it generally slipped from the conscious of her daily life.

It starts with who was fighting the war, Kelly said. During the Vietnam War, the draft meant almost any young male could be called to combat. Iraq was fought by professional troops who voluntarily enlisted, many of them career militarypersonnel.

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The media also might have played a role in the Iraqdisconnect.

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Many felt disconnected from Iraq War

break it, you buy it,' " he said.

"It's bad; it should be more important to everyone," said Mehrali, who was more focused on her studies and water polo at Ventura College than she was on the war. "People are so wrapped up in their daily lives, it was hard for people to notice."

"It was clear there was less coverage of this war over time, and there was less coverage of this war quicker than there was of previous wars," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence inJournalism.

"It was a war that was very different from any other we have had in our history," said Sean Kelly, a political science professor at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo. "As a people, we were never really asked to invest ourselves in the war, and I think that makes a difference."

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"You didn't have your kid or my kid being forced to go there, and so it is a self selection into the war," he said. Policy Toward Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq."

"Despite that number, many people don't know anyone who served, whereas during the Vietnam era, people often knew someone and had a direct connection to it. That direct connection has been lost with the demise of the draft and the rise of the professional military," Caldwell said.

And with the war in Afghanistan stretching on now the longest in American history people may have become fatigued with both conflicts,Kellysaid.

His group tracked media coverage of the war starting in 2007 and saw a precipitous decline as time went on. In 2007, Nike Air Force One Flyknit 15 percent of all news coverage was about the war, falling to 4 percent in 2008, 2 percent in 2009 and less than 1 percent in 2010. In 2011, there was more coverage of the drug war in Mexico and the Casey Anthony trial than of the Iraq War, according to Excellence inJournalism.

Kelly said as the war continued, some viewed it as a quagmire.

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previous wars in which citizens were asked to ration supplies or buy war bonds or even forced into the draft, most Americans, such as Mehrali, were not personally affected by the Iraq War. And that meant a sense of detachment for many, experts said. As the war dragged on and the economy became the country's focus, the media curtailed coverage of the conflict, furthering the distance between everyday America and the battlefields of Iraq,expertssaid.

Kelly said that while the 4,484 American troops who have died in Iraq is a tragic and sad number, it pales in comparison to the more than 58,100 who died in Vietnam.

"It made it seem like there wasn't really a war going on over there," hesaid.

Even though Maria Ayala, 29, of Ventura had a brother who fought in the war, she couldn't follow the ins and outs of the policies and why we werethere.

Part of that was due to shrinking news organizations with fewer resources to cover the war, he said. Coverage would peak when there was controversy over surges or other debates, but it often took a back seat to the economic woes that affected millions of Americans.

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