Sixteen millionmen and women served in uniform during World War II. Today, 1.2 million are still alive, but hundreds of those vets are dying every day. In honor of Memorial Day, NPR's All Things Consideredis remembering some of the veterans who have died this year.
"Tad Nagaki was a gentle, quiet farmer," says Mary Previte, a retired New Jersey legislator and former captive of the Japanese during World War II. That quiet farmer, who did extraordinary things, died in April at the age of 93 at his grandson's Colorado home.
Frankie Kuzuguk, 82, gets a hug from his daughter Marilyn Kuzuguk at Quyanna Care Center in Nome, Alaska, after receiving an official honorable discharge and a distinguished service coin from visiting Veterans Affairs officials. The VA is still tracking down the few surviving members of the World War II Alaska Territorial Guard or delivering benefits to their next of kin.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
Laban Iyatunguk, who served in the ATG, or "Eskimo Scouts," walks away from the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Nome, where VA officials from Washington, D.C., were trying to register ATG vets. Iyatunguk says he has waited years to take advantage of his VA benefits but found the application process too daunting.
Credit David Gilkey / NPR
For years, Clyde Iyatunguk has been waiting for benefits for his father, Laban Iyatunguk, who served in World War II with the Alaska Territorial Guard. Congress did not recognize ATG members as veterans until 2000.
Woody Guthrie's relationship with his home state has always been complicated. The singer-songwriter left Oklahoma and traveled the nation, composing some of the best-known songs of his time and ours. But to many in the state, his progressive political views did not fit with a strong conservative streak during the Cold War period. His reputation there is now closer to a full restoration as Oklahoma opens his archives.
Srinivas Ayyagari onstage in 1992 (left); at right, Ayyagari today. "Seeing someone from ESPN commenting on your style and strategy was bizarre and weird. But it's the closest I'll ever come to being an athlete," Ayyagari says.
Credit Karla Miller
Karla Miller competed in the national bees of 1984, 1985 and 1986. Her best finish was 31st, when she went out on the word "dashiki." Today, Miller is a writer and editor. At right, a recent snapshot of Miller and her daughter.
Credit Raga Ramachandran
(Left) 1988 champion Raga Ramachandran gives a TV interview at age 13. Today, Ramachandran is a surgical pathologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
For an academic contest pitting young spellers against the dictionary, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has taken on the intensity of the fiercest athletic events. Feeling the warmth of television lights — not to mention nerves and distractions — all while sports commentators are analyzing your "style" and approach is something only a select club of young word-nerdy Americans gets to experience. How does that early experience affect these mostly middle-school-aged kids later in life?
In the first Planned Parenthood defunding case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices have refused to disturb a lower court decision that barred Indiana from stripping Medicaid payments to the organization.
For 20 years, Stephen King has had an image stuck in his head: It's a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. "It wanted to be a story, but it wasn't a story," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But little by little, the story took shape around the image — and focused on an amusement park called "Joyland" located just a little farther down the beach.
At least that's what you can glean from the latest Better Life Index issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which ranked Australia the world's happiest nation for a third year in a row.
Because we know you're wondering: The United States is ranked No. 6, behind Australia, Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland.