The men and women of the World War II generation are an amazing lot. Having had a father, five uncles and a number of personal friends who served in that war, I've had a lifelong association with these remarkable veterans.
Their spirit and vitality have always been an inspiration. Our 41st president, George Bush Sr., is one example. Now 89, Bush was one of our youngest aviators in WW II. He amazed us all by celebrating his 75th, 80th, and 85th birthdays by going skydiving.
A number of Honor Flight members recently showed that same gumption in Washington D.C. After traveling from their home towns across America, these patriotic Americans who endured the Great Depression and a world war weren't about to be shut out of from seeing the memorial they helped erect.
The survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack 72 years ago are dwindling. Of an estimated 84,000 American service members who survived the Japanese strike, only about 2,000 veterans remain alive today.
One Pearl Harbor survivor who is still writing his life story is George Bennett of Oregon. Now, 89, he broke his hip on Oct. 7 when his feet got tangled in his oxygen lines at his home in an assisted living facility.
The fall, the surgery and weeks of rehab that followed marked a low point in his life but better days are ahead. Shortly after his 90th birthday, Bennett will marry Donna Higgins, another resident at his assisted living facility.
A Navy veteran, Bennett made many trips to Hawaii on Dec. 7 but this year, he won't be able to make it due to a doctor's appointment.
"We Pearl vets are passing on quickly," Bennett said.
With his wedding day approaching, Bennett optimistically looks to his own future and he continues to entertain the staff at his rehab center with stories.
"He's living history," said his physical therapist.
That's a good way to define all those representing the senior class of veterans who are still with us.
By Jim Zbick