Approximately every three minutes a memory of World War II—its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs—disappears. Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now mostly in their 90s. They are dying quickly—at the rate of approximately 430 a day, according to US Veterans Administration figures.
Honoring the 20th-century veterans’ sacrifice before they pass from the scene is at the forefront of everything we do at The National WWII Museum—from our exhibits, to oral histories, to the Museum’s $370 million expansion, a lasting tribute to the Greatest Generation.
“There’s no time to lose, ” said Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, President and CEO of the Museum. “We want to be able to finish and dedicate our expansion while we still have members of the Greatest Generation to thank for their sacrifice and service to the nation and to show the world what they mean to the principle of freedom.”
The graph below uses statistics from the Veterans Administration to illustrate the urgency of our mission. During the war, 16 million Americans served their nation. Today, that number stands under a million. By 2036, it is estimated there will be no living veterans of World War II left to recount their experiences.