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Veterans part of our national treasure

Kids Count

Several recent measures indicate that the majority of American students don’t know who America opposed during World War II.

The same measures show that about 40 percent of American students did not know that World War II even happened. It could be argued that World War II was one of the biggest events in history and shaped the course of history and the lives of millions of people.

In all, 16,112,566 Americans served in World War II, 291,557 Americans lost their lives in combat, and another 670,846 suffered mortal woundings. Now, the median age of American World War II veterans is 87.5. Sadly, just over 1,100 World War II veterans die every day. At the dawn of World War II the draft was instituted and American men between 18 and 38 were drafted and the draft age was later extended up to 45 years of age. The average age of an American soldier was 26 years old.

In the course of my work, I often encounter veterans of World War II and I consider it a privilege to speak with them and for those that are willing to share, I am riveted by what they share. As I entered his room, I noticed a portrait picture, she is elegant and beautiful, she was his wife that has preceded him. His hands are bent, scared and aching. Still when I shake his hand his grip is powerful and resolute. I see from his exotic tattoo that he is a Navy man.

After a few conversations I asked him about his military service and he shared that he had been a witness to the aircraft carrier, USS Franklin being hit. It was March 19, 1945, and The Franklin was sailing toward Honshu and Kobe Harbor. While under way, the Franklin was attacked by Japanese fighter planes and was critically struck by two bombs. In an instant, 755 American sailors lost their lives and another 365 sailors were injured.

Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net

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