The men and women who served in the U.S. military during World War II have always been held in high esteem, but it wasn't until half a century had passed that they were recognized as what has become the well-known "greatest generation." But it wasn't just for their wartime efforts that so many of today's aging population are admired. They also exemplify an era when morality and ethics were highly valued and when an entrepreneurial spirit propelled America into the world power it is today.
Sadly, the greatest generation is dwindling by large numbers. Federal officials say World War II veterans are dying at the rate of nearly 1,000 a day. By 2008, funerals for veterans of World War II and the Korean War will peak, meaning most of those generations will be gone.
It is fitting, then, that Americans of every generation are recognizing the contributions of the greatest generations in so many ways. Last week's Veterans Day tributes in schools and at war memorials are evidence of a deep and abiding interest in honoring those who have given us so much. One extra benefit of this attention has been renewed admiration for veterans who have served in later conflicts, up to and including the current Operation Enduring Peace.