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Two Veterans Offer Insights and Perspective of the War's Realities

  • Tim Wardner

May 8th is the day, 60 years ago, that marks the surrender of Germany in World War II. The veterans that fought in the war are less in numbers every year but their memories of that historic time is still strong.

"I'll let you know how I feel about those guys. Doesn't a day go by that they don't cross my mind,” says Lamar Weikle.

It's now been 60 years since the end of World War II. But 60 years have not erased painful memories of losing friends in battle for 81-year-old U.S. Army Veteran Lamar Weikle of Chantilly, Virginia.

"Maybe I was lucky, maybe God was with me but why would he be with me and not with the other guys. I don't know," explains Lamar Weikle.

Some 16.5 million Americans served in World War II. Today fewer than 3.7 million World War II military veterans are still alive. And, they are dying at a rate of as many as 1,500 every day.

Major General Lloyd B. Ramsey, U.S. Army retired, 86-years-old, first joined the Army in 1940.

"Beautiful, beautiful. You couldn't ask for any better."

Major General Lloyd Ramsey is visiting, for the first time, the recently completed World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. General Ramsey served in Europe during the war and went on to complete a 34-year career in the U.S. military. He is concerned that the importance of the war is being lost on today's school age children.

"For the young people that do not understand anything about World War II nowadays, if they come here they are going to study more about World War II and understand what it is all about," says General Ramsey.

Adolph Hitler's aggressive fascism in Germany and expansionist militarism in Japan created a worldwide cataclysm starting in the late 1930s. It is estimated that more than 50 million people died in the war. Vets like General Ramsey view the war with moral clarity.

"If we didn't win World War II we would not be a free nation," says General Ramsey.

Sixty years ago at the end of World War II, America's national resolve was unified.

"It was amazing the attitude of the American people all over the United States were completely supportive of the military all the way," explains General Ramsey.

"It was just like a job that had to be done," adds Lamar Weikle.

World War II uprooted and fundamentally changed the circumstances of untold millions around the world. For young American service personnel, World War II showed them so much they had never known before that they were never the same after.

"I was a changed man according to my wife. To try and get back to normal everyday life that you were used to in civilian life, it took a little time to do," explains General Ramsey.

"It was a frightening thing, you know. I hadn't faced death like that," says Mr. Weikle.

General Ramsey, like most veterans, wants to remember. At Arlington National Cemetery monuments and gravestones signify the sacrifice to serve a greater purpose.

"I don't like to hear the words 'they gave their life' because most of them fought as hard as they could to save their life and save their country but they had to pay the supreme sacrifice in doing it," says General Ramsey.

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