This week our world recognized the military’s largest seaborne invasion in history, Operation Overlord, or D-Day, which occurred on June 6, 1944. More than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France.
That effort would lead to the eventual Allied march across Europe to Germany and the defeat of the German army.
Next year will mark 80 years since that historic day of days. Over the years, thousands of WW II veterans have made the trek back to Normandy to remember and honor the more than 10,000 Allied troop losses from that day. Now, fewer and fewer World War II veterans are able to make the trip, and those that do overcome physical challenges in order to be there.
The men and women who were a part of this conflict are now in their 90s and older. And, we are losing them quickly — about 180 a day. According to WWII Veteran Statistics, only around 167,000 of the 16 million Americans who served were still alive in 2022.
By next year’s 80th anniversary, fewer than 100,000 of these veterans will still be living. By 2034, there will be fewer than 1,000 left. In 2022, about 2,000 Oklahoma WW II vets were still alive.
Efforts have been made to honor these veterans. Honor Flights from many states make the trip to Washington D.C. for veterans to visit the World War II memorial. However, many of those flights have stopped because either all the veterans who could make the trip have made the trip — or, there are very few who are currently healthy enough to get there.
Our country does a good job of honoring and remembering veterans, and that’s important. Veterans Day in November honors all military members, current and past, who have served. Memorial Day in May honors the ultimate sacrifice of our military members who died in service. July 4, we recognize Independence Day with patriotic flair in honor of the founding of our nation and that conflict won by a very new and inexperienced American military.
We honor and remember our veterans because they protected our country by putting their lives on the line. We specifically honor World War II veterans for their service during a critical juncture in world history.
Too often, we take for granted the freedoms they protected, and we don’t adequately honor them and their families for what they did.
All our veterans of all our wars deserve respect and honor for their service. As long as any World War II veteran survives, we must take time and give them our respect and thanks.
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