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Tribute to a generation.

In May the nation dedicates a long-overdue tribute to the 16 million men and women who served in the United States armed forces during World War II, and the more than 400,000 who died in the struggle to rid the world of tyranny.

Nearly 59 years after the end of the conflict historians have called the defining event of the 20th century, the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., will serve as a timeless reminder of the awesome strength and power of a free people united in a common and just cause.

Many DAV members who served during the war and their families will converge on the nation's capital far the memorial's dedication and associated events. And having so many of my fellow disabled veterans being honored for their service and sacrifice during this historic occasion is truly exciting.

Yet many others from what has been dubbed the greatest generation are unable to attend the dedication events, and we must not forget that they are every bit as deserving of the deep admiration and respect from a grateful nation as those who will be honored in Washington. So, I certainly hope and fully expect that appropriate events in those communities will pay tribute to the World War II veterans in their midst, as well.

As a way to honor their service and sacrifice, many of our citizens, especially young people, have been collecting the personal stories of family members and others in their communities who served during World War II as part of the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress.

In my home state of Massachusetts, for example, solve schools have even created websites that recount the story of World War II as told by survivors of the war to students. This is an example of how one generation has passed on its experiences and memories to another.

Programs such as these create a fascinating collection of stories of interviews with men and women who served all over the globe during the war. From the brutality of the Japanese occupation of Singapore to the street battles of Stalingrad, from the bombed out Villages of France, Italy, and Germany to the comparative quiet of the American home front. 'They preserve the memories of veterans so future generations can better understand what it was like to live in such a momentous time in world history. They will help ensure that the stories of America's veterans will not be forgotten,

One school's oral history website features interviews with a variety of people who took part in the drive to push the Japanese back to their own islands, as well as U.S. soldiers who fought to push the Germans Out of Italy and France and back into Germany. The sacrifices made by these veterans in the ferocious battles of the war are truly remarkable given the fact that these people were just average men and women living in extraordinary times.

As one who has been personally collecting the oral histories of veterans for some time:, I want to encourage other DAV and Auxiliary members to be a part of this truly exciting and important effort. After all, the DAV was one of the very first nationwide organizations to become a partner in the Veterans History Project.

As I have said before, the Veterans History Project is a wonderful way to horror and remember the men and women who have defended our country, often at great personal cost. And collecting and preserving the stories of those who served in World War II will be a lasting tribute to an entire generation of America's greatest veterans.

Alan W. Bowers, National Commander
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Title Annotation:honoring war veterans, National World War II Memorial
Author:Bowers, Alan W.
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1U5DC
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:612
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