“Age is catching up with us and time is running out.”
—William Paynter, 91
World War II Veteran
A front-page story in Sunday’s Post and Courier covers several groups’ efforts to preserve the personal stories of veterans before they are lost forever.
Once there were 16 million U.S. World War II veterans. That number has shrunk to about 2.5 million. Some estimates predict that by 2020, there will be no more WWII veterans still alive.
There are only 12 verified World War I veterans* still alive, and just two of them live in the United States. Both are 107 years old. The oldest of the dozen lives in the UK and is 111. He is also the oldest verified man in Europe.
These men have had a lifetime to relive the horrors of war that they witnessed long before there was a condition known as “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
They have spent a lifetime trying to suppress the painful memories of watching their comrades, their friends, die in service of the country.
I suspect even the passage of decades doesn’t make that a great deal easier when those memories come rushing to the surface.
There’s no practical way to tabulate the human story of each and every loss this country has suffered in every war ever fought. Reciting a bunch of numbers seems almost inhuman.
Because it isn’t about numbers; it’s about people.
Do you think you can spare a few minutes today to think about those fallen soldiers yourself? It isn’t the least you can do, but it’s pretty close.
* This is information according to Wikipedia, so it may or may not be completely accurate. Take it as you will.