The Greatest Jewish Generation
Stand for Israel | May 28, 2019
“The Greatest Generation” is the one who literally saved the world from evil during World War II. Writing at JNS, Tom Mountain says that as their numbers dwindle, many of these heroes’ stories — including the thousands of Jews who fought — are being saved and retold for the benefit of generations to come:
The Greatest Generation, that milestone generation which saved the world in the Second World War, is rapidly dwindling right before our eyes. The death of George H.W. Bush at age 92, the youngest Navy pilot in the war, caused to serve notice that their days are truly numbered.
More than 16 million Americans served during World War II. Five years ago, there were more than a million surviving veterans. Right now there are a little less than 400,000. Next year the number will drop by another 100,000. Within five years, there’ll be about 60,000 veterans left.
This is not to say that these World War II veterans will completely disappear anytime soon. They won’t.
Frank Buckles, the last surviving American World War I veteran, died in 2011 at age 110. So World War II veterans will certainly be with us for the next few decades.
More than 550,000 Jews served in the U.S. military during the Second World War. For an American Jewish population at the time of just over 4,770,000, this represents a very high percentage, with probably 90 percent of Jewish adult males of military age serving during the war.
It’s nearly impossible to determine the number of surviving Jewish World War II veterans, but the best estimates hover around several thousand. And even that number diminishes on a weekly basis.
Those youngest soldiers who entered the war in 1944-45 are now 91 to 92 years old, with the largest age group dying off. Luckily, many of those who are still with us or recently passed had their stories documented, either formally or by their families. The importance of these testaments cannot be underestimated. Every veteran of the war has or had a compelling story to tell.
Such as Nathan Gordon.
A month after Navy Pilot George Bush passed away, so, too, did Nathan Gordon. But before he did, he told the story of his young life, and especially his life during the war…