We have veterans: My father was in the Navy in WW-II, my wife's father in submarine service in WW-II, one of my uncles was infantry in Korea, another was career Air Force, one of my wife's uncles was a doctor in a forward aid station in Korea (the ones that fed the MASH units). The generation before was mostly too old, too young, or in critical industries. Of those who served I don't know of any that didn't make it home. We have the war diary of one of my wife's ancestors--U-boats came close but the troop ship arrived in time for the Armistice. One of my brothers-in-law was in the Navy in VietNam. (My experience is limited to registering for the draft. I was classified 4H: 4A but Holding. The VietNam war was winding down.)
For reasons having to do with research for a novel the lunch conversation turned to the battle of Midway and the fate of Torpedo 8, and I reminded the youngsters around the picnic table that every one of the men who died that day was younger than they. My wife reminded me that the officers were generally older than the rest, but even of them I think most were younger. I hoped they could imagine how life and death and the fate of millions rested in the decisions of men who didn't live to see their own young ages.
We'll forget them: even when we make the effort it's hard to remember. But One remembers. May God have mercy on them. And on us, who might just as easily have been in their boots.