The Greatest Generation

Did you ever catch a story that just made you think? This one's off the Associated Press. Dateline, Bushnell, Florida.

It's about a national cemetery that's been pretty busy lately, burying upwards of 30 veterans a day. Every day. Tomorrow, more than 40 funerals are scheduled. Most of those caskets hold World War II vets, now dying at a rate of nearly 1,000 a day in America. 1,000 a day.

The greatest generation is leaving us and fairly quickly.

There's the story of 74-year-old veteran Al Williams, who says simply, "Sometimes it gets to you... I've lost a lot of friends." His honor guard alone handles five funerals a day.

Florida seems a long way from places like Normandy and Iwo Jima and Dresden. But it is where so many of these heroes went to close out their storied lives, the last chapter in their lives.

And one by one they leave us. Now a tad more rapidly than before.

As cemetery director Billy Murphy puts it, "They're coming through these gates from the time we start in the morning until we finish at 2:30 p.m."

And then all over again the next day. Until by 2008, maybe 2010, it all crawls to a trickle and then a stop.

The greatest generation gone. Quietly. Almost invisibly.

A generation that made so much noise for the world to hear, stepping off the stage silently now, sadly now, with dignity now.

They made our world a better place. I trust and pray they have found an even better place.

God knows, they're entitled.

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