Current headlines tell the story: Four US Soldiers Die in Iraq; War Toll Is at 4000, among other permutations of the same theme.
While the lyrics have long been disputed, there's a popular interpretation that the Pearl Jam song "Yellow Ledbetter" is about dealing with fatal reality of war affecting the home front. The Wikipedia entry for the song currently says:
So this entry is for the 4000 fallen U.S. soldiers in Iraq in the past five years (and the sad expectation of a greater number), and while the original intent was "anti-patriotic" in terms of being anti-Gulf War 1, I'm positing this interpretation for the unintelligible lyrics: To hope for a solution to an increasingly incoherent problem. It's still patriotic to dissent for the good of America, isn't it?
Many fans have argued about the meaning of this song contained in the lyrics and have even questioned the existence of a central theme (although, one common theory is about someone receiving a letter and finding his brother had died overseas in war, cited from the lyrics in the Live at the Garden version "I don't know whether my brother will be coming home in a box or a bag"). About the song, Vedder said that it was written around the time of the Gulf War, and added that "it's an anti-patriotic song, actually."
It is because of the freeform nature of this song that allows Pearl Jam to easily improvise the song and change it around as they see fit when performing it live. During performances, McCready often lengthens the outro and the guitar solo and Vedder almost always changes the lyrics around, sticking with the same rhythm as the original recording. The song has managed to become a staple among fans of the band, yet because of the freeform nature of its lyrics many fans have attached their own meaning to the song.
Here's a video of the band playing the song in the year 2000: