Not just because my own personal WW II vet will be 90 on Monday, I've been thinking about not only the people, but the history that's leaving us at a rate of over 1,000 a day. They're not Spring chickens anymore, and that's what makes these stories of WW II vets in the news so striking.
When a young man knocked on the door of WW II vet Art Iwasaki looking for school donations, Iwasaki had no idea he'd wind up 15 minutes later with a gun pointed to his face. The young man was back and demanding money. Iwasaki feigned deafness pointing to his hearing aids and told the kid to write it down. Stalling until he could shout to get his daughter's attention (who was upstairs working) the robber was caught off guard. While the robber's attention was on Iwasaki's daughter, Iwasaki picked up his bamboo cane and brandished it at the robber, pushing him out the door.
The bravery is nothing new for this vet: he served in the most decorated Army infantry group in US history.
Unfortunately those decorations can also be prime targets for thieves. To see how, and the powerful kindness of strangers,
In Australia, thieves posing as carpenters gained access to the home of an 86-year-old vet — three weeks later he realized the carpenters were thieves who'd taken his war medals. Police say it's one of several similar crimes to happen in the area.
But some are opening their own homes to help this burnished generation. When 89-year-old vet John Martinek lost his home to a fire in April, he'd been living in a camper pickup behind his house and washing up at the McDonald's — until a virtual stranger, Lidia Perez, invited him to live in the back bedroom of her Habitat for Humanity House. Martinek gets $550 a month to live on, and he and Perez are having a yard sale to raise money.
There are charities that help World War II Veterans and help to preserve their history — and they can use your help. The American Veterans Center works to document the history of the "Greatest Generation" through the collection of first-hand accounts, and Honor Flight brings those vets to the memorial built just for them.