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National WWII Museum says 131 WWII veterans die each day

Taylor with Vet.JPG
Posted at 9:08 AM, Nov 10, 2023

NEW ORLEANS, LA — The National World War II Museum, located in New Orleans keeps statistics on WWII veterans across the country.

Those numbers show that of the 16 million men and women who served in WWII, only about 119,000 are still alive today. But what's more shocking is how often we're losing those men and women. The museum says each day, 131 of those veterans die.

I reached out to the museum this week as the nation approaches Veterans Day. The Senior Historian there, Dr. John Curatola, told me that we've reached a point in this country where far too many people don't realize what a precious resources those veterans are.

"Many Americans aren't familiar with the history of the Second World War," Curatola told me. "And so, as a result, there's a lack of appreciation for the sacrifices that were made not only by the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines fighting the war, but also by the home workers, the people who worked in factories, and the people who produce the sinews of war that allowed the United States to project across two great oceans and defeat fascism on their own turf."

I lost both of my grandfathers before I graduated high school. I always knew they'd served in WWII, but I never took the time to ask them about their stories. Now, as a journalist, I have such a strong regret that I never got to conduct those "interviews."

However, I've had the good fortune in my career to travel and cover multiple "Honor Flights," where veterans are taken to Washington D.C. to visit memorials built in their honor.

The stories I got to hear sitting with those men and women had a profound impact on me, and I still encourage people to visit with a veteran, especially from WWII, as often as possible.

I asked Dr. Curatola about the best way to do that.

"They will open up once they see that you are genuine," Curatola told me. "They will let you in a little bit and and tell you about some of the horrors that that they may have experienced. And so building a relationship, I know you're talking about strangers, but show a genuine concern. (Don't use) superficial platitudes like, 'Thank you for your service,' and walk away, but show a genuine concern for those people. It goes a long way, being earnest."

That's something to keep in mind, especially this Veterans Day weekend.