The remaining veterans are few, and what sets them apart is their age rather than their experiences.
Such is the fate of Old Soldiers since time began.
Soon World War II will be beyond living memory, just as World War I slowly faded 20 years earlier.
Vietnam is now the "old man's war," and most of the Veterans Administration hospitals are populated with survivors of that conflict. They are losing ground of course to the newer generation.
It's arguable that the Pearl Harbor generation had it easy. In December 1941 the war began. It was over by September 1945. The losses were greater, the hardships felt across the nation, but they had the consolation of total victory.
What can be said of the ardent 18-year-olds that joined up after Sept. 11, 2001? Here we are, more than 15 years later and no end is in sight. Even naming the enemy remains a contentious issue for which the president-elect is condemned.
I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would live in a world where people could complete 20 years of military service while in an active state of open war, yet we're almost there.
That ardent teenager is now 33. If he stayed in, he's a field-grade officer or senior NCO, and he's seen multiple tours and likely lost friends and comrades, either to active combat or the depression and officially sanctioned neglect that followed.
This is a war were people are leaving the service because they're too old to stay in "for the duration.
All wars eventually belong to the history books, but it strange that a society as obsessed with short-term fixes and such a limited attention span has somehow managed to fight three times as long as we did 70 years ago.