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Keep the stories of veterans alive

Today’s 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion will likely be the last for a very large number of the men who fought it.
Surviving World War II veterans, such as the ones interviewed for an article in today’s Post, are a national treasure, but they are becoming more rare than gold.
The young men who assaulted totalitarianism on the beaches of Normandy and wrested Europe from the clutches of a madman are now in their late 80s or 90s.
Those who remain, that is. One of the stories in today’s Post is about Tyre Nicholson of China Grove, who died May 4, just a few weeks before he was to be awarded the French Legion of Honor at a ceremony today in Virginia.
And more are being lost all the time — more than 500 American World War II veterans die each day, according to government statistics.
Some among the Greatest Generation worry their story will die with them.
Ninety-two-year-old James Krucas of Racine, Wisconsin, whose actions during the June 6, 1944, invasion earned him the Silver Star, lamented in an interview with the Associated Press that future generations won’t remember.
“In 20 years,” he said, “there will be no veterans around to tell them this was the day that saved the world.”
That cannot happen. Too many gave and risked their lives in the name of freedom to be lost in the shadows of history.
Organizations such as the Price of Freedom Museum are working to preserve veterans’ stories, and to pass them on to younger generations along with an understanding of what their sacrifices meant to the nation then and now.
And now is the time. You don’t have to be part of an organization, or an academic. Talk with a veteran. Record his or her story. Preserve it. Pass it along.
Even most of the World War II veterans who can no longer remember every small detail can recall the big ones, the important ones. They know why they were fighting, why they had to win and why they did. They remember their fellow soldiers, sailors and airmen, whether they survived or where they fell.
If they were there, on the beaches of Nazi-occupied France on that June morning in 1944, they remember. Bill Lowrance was there, on Omaha Beach, a medic tending to the wounded he could save and those beyond help, and he remembers.
“That’s something you never forget,” he said.
It’s something that should never be forgotten, Mr. Lowrance, and neither should the men who were there.

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