As we commemorate the D_Day landings , I offer something for you to think about.
James Albert Hard (July 15, 1843 – March 12, 1953) was the last verified combat veteran of the Civil War and the second-to-last verified veteran overall; only drummer-boy Albert Woolson post-deceased him. Though he claimed to have been born in 1841, research in 2006 found that the 1850 Census indicated a birthdate of 1843. His war service record from 1861 was also located.
Frank W. Buckles died on 28 February, 2011 sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused. In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. Available records showing that former corporal Buckles, serial No. 15577, had outlived all of his compatriots from World War I, the Department of Veterans Affairs declared him the last doughboy standing.
16,112,566 individuals were members of the United States armed forces during World War II. There were 291,557 battle deaths, 113,842 other deaths in service (non-theater), and 670,846 non-mortal woundings. In November 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 1,462,809 American veterans from this war were still living. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that in 2011, 670 American World War II veterans died every day. The median age for a World War II veteran in June 2011 was 92 years.
Today there is roughly about 300 survivors of D–Day.
Before the politicians descend on Normandy, the D Day veterans arrived and for the last two days have met with young people. One teenager asked a vet what his favorite memory of the war was. “Going home!” he answered. Each vet is a living history of that day. Priceless treasures that like so many before them are winking out.
If you know a veteran of World War Two. If they are your great grandfather or a friend or a neighbor, please seek them out. Talk to them and if they are willing, listen to them. Then truly thank them for their service to our country and to you.
Then try really hard to remember their stories, their values, the reasons they stormed that beach on that day with their so very young lives at risk.
Many think they are forgotten.
Reach out to them before it’s too late.