Less than one million American World War II veterans are still alive, and an average of 430 die each day, according to Veteran’s Administration statistics.
Each remaining veteran, like veterans who have already passed, has a story.
The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is now setting out to document those stories, so they aren’t lost forever.
At its March meeting, VFW members voted to purchase a video camera, which will be put to use in documenting the stories of its members.
“We want to get to all our WWII veterans first,” explained VFW Commander David Raborn.
“We’d like them to discuss their lives, including when they joined, when they came home, joined the VFW and what they’ve done as part of the VFW.”
Raborn said the statistics regarding the rapid loss of WWII veterans stand true in the Mount Airy VFW chapter.
“We’ve lost three just since January,” noted Raborn.
Raborn added the post has only a few WWII veterans remaining. The plan is to save those stories.
“We will pass on the history to all our brothers,” said Raborn. “It’ll be something the next guys can see and something they can build on.”
Raborn said once they have documented the stories of remaining WWII veterans, the post will move on to the history of those involved in subsequent conflicts.
The mission won’t stop until all have been documented, including those who served in the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, the Global War on Terror and other conflicts and combat operations.
Raborn said the program may be especially rewarding to those who served in Vietnam.
“There’s a stigma some of us aren’t productive members of society,” explained Raborn, who is a Vietnam veteran. “This is a way of showing folks we are active and out in the community.”
The VFW meets on the second Monday of each month at Veterans Memorial Park in Mount Airy. Raborn said veterans who are eligible for membership are invited to attend.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.