The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

It has been 25,640 days since an American soldier died in a war declared by Congress

It has been 25,640 days since an American soldier died in a war declared by the United States Congress.

That soldier was Anthony Marchione, 19, who signed up to fight for the U.S. Army in 1943. He was a gunner in a B-32 Dominator called the "Hobo Queen II", as Air & Space magazine reported in 2008. During a reconnaissance run over Japan on August 18, 1945, the aircraft was attacked by Japanese fighters. Marchione bled to death before the plane landed.

The conflict between the United States and Japan had ended three days earlier, with the announcement of Japan's surrender. (The official signing came several weeks later.) The conflict began with the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 -- with the United States Congress formally declaring war on Japan the following day.

When Congress declared war on Germany three days later, the draft Senate resolution simply crossed out Japan and wrote in "Germany."

They also took out a section.

Since June of 1942, when congressional resolutions authorized wars with Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, the United States Congress has not officially declared war on a foreign nation. The right to declare war is granted to Congress in Article I of the Constitution, but since 1942, the United States has found ways to send troops to fight and die overseas without that prerequisite. Only 11 times has Congress declared war.

The first declaration of war came in 1812, directed at the armies of Great Britain. The vote was approved by about 60 percent of the members in each chamber -- closer margins than any war declaration that followed. (During World War II, all of the declarations approved by the Senate were unanimous.)

Since the end of World War II, the last formally declared by Congress, nearly 90,000 American soldiers, sailors and airmen have been killed in combat. That's 33,000 in Korea, 47,000 in Vietnam, 148 in the First Gulf War and some 7,000 in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent fatality of an American soldier in combat was last Thursday, when a Delta Force soldier was killed during a raid in Iraq.

Joshua Wheeler was 39 years old.