We pause this Memorial Day to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. Military. For those who lost friends and loved ones during the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, their grief is fresh. The lost are remembered by their families, neighbors, and classmates as well as by the servicemembers they fought beside.
For those who died in previous conflicts: Korea, Vietnam, World War II, there are fewer people each year who knew them when they were alive – fewer who remember them personally. This is most especially true for those lost during WWII.
But the end of the war was over 70 years ago. Most of that Greatest Generation has passed away. Of the 16 million US veterans who survived the War, only around 300,000 are still alive today according to the National WWII Museum. Almost 300 of these elderly veterans die each day.
The National WWII Museum works to preserve the stories, memories, and experiences of those who gave their lives, and those who fought and returned with honor. “Every day, memories of World War II – its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs – disappear. Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their late 70’s and 90’s.” states Gordon H. Mueller, President and CEO Emeritus of the Museum.
Hearing a first-hand account of a survivor’s war experiences can help us connect with and relate to those we remember on Memorial Day who did not come home.