One of the many moving moments Americans witnessed this week as the nation honored the late George H.W. Bush was 95-year-old former senator Bob Dole rising with assistance from his wheelchair on Tuesday in the U.S. Capitol rotunda to salute the 41st president's casket.
Dole paid his respects to Bush not only as a fellow colleague in government service, but as a fellow veteran of military service during World War II.
The scene reminded us of how the inexorable march of time is pushing our WWII human treasures deeper into the past. Of the more than 16 million members of the United States armed forces involved in WWII, only some 620,000 survive, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This year, the VA estimates, nearly 400 WWII veterans die each day.
George H.W. Bush, who was 94 when he died on Nov. 30, was the last veteran from WWII who will serve as U.S. president.
We reflect on that turbulent time when the fate of the world hung in the balance not only because of Bush's death and Dole's salute, but because today marks the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war against evil and tyranny.
We repeat what we have said before and no doubt will say again in this space.
Americans must remain dedicated to making sure the echoes of heroism from those long-ago, far-away battlefields will be heard forever, must remain obligated to recognizing our nation's living veterans from WWII whenever and however possible, and must remain committed to never taking for granted the freedoms which we enjoy now and which U.S. forces fought for then.