The looming approach of a world without World War II veterans


American World War II veteran Frederick Carrier, who took part in the D-Day landing, reads the names of the dead on a monument  in Normandy as part of this week's anniversary. (Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images)

As Bruce Drake points out over at the Pew Research Center, only 1 million World War II veterans are still alive to witness the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy that precipitated the end of the war. That's a fraction of the 10.7 million who marked the anniversary in 1984. And it's a solemn reminder that their ranks will soon disappear. As The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb notes, few veterans are expected to live to see the 75th anniversary.

"By the next decennial anniversary," Drake writes, "the VA estimates that their numbers will be down to 81,117."

That VA data gathered by the National World War II Museum suggests that America is losing 555 World War II veterans a day. By 2027, that number will be down to 35 a day. By 2034, it will be down to two per day. Below are the full projections for America's veterans:

Source: The National World War II Museum, Department of Veterans Affairs
Source: The National World War II Museum, Department of Veterans Affairs

Many have already aged beyond the ability to travel to Normandy for an anniversary ceremony. But they are still here to relive that moment for those of us born much later. By 2036, according to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, "it is estimated there will be no living veterans of World War II left to recount their experiences."

Emily Badger is a reporter for Wonkblog covering urban policy. She was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities.
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