SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In about 10 years there will be 1,751 World War II veterans still living in the U.S., according to data analyzed and shared this month by Statista.

As of this year, there are about 87,000 of World War II veterans still living.

The U.S. Department of Military Affairs said that in 2020, there were 941 World War II veterans living in South Dakota.

South Dakota has a World War II Memorial that was dedicated in 2001.

Stories from veterans and photos have been collected and are housed at Black Hills State University, said Audry Ricketts of public affairs for the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.

The national Library of Congress also has a collection of stories and photos from veterans.

“It is important for all veterans to share their story. Breakdown their walls.” Ricketts said in an email to KELOLAND News. “Friends and families need to know about their great legacy and all they gave for their country.  America is a great nation today because of the men and women who serve.”

The U.S. officially entered World War II on Dec. 8, 1941. The war ended Sept. 2, 1945.

From 2000 to 2018, the number of living World War II veterans in the U.S. decreased from 5.7 million to less than 500,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the fastest group of declining veterans. The Census defined World War II veterans as those who served from December of 1941 to December of 1946.

The U.S. required all men between 21 and 45 to register for the draft, according to the National WWII Museum. More than 16 million men and women served during World War II.

According to a study published in 2015, almost one-in-four men in the U.S. population were veterans, and for those aged 65 and older, the proportion exceeded one-half in 2015.

It’s been nearly 80 years since an American fought in the war.

South Dakota lost 18% of its veterans from all wars from 2000 to 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

More than 40% of the veterans in South Dakota were 65 and older in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Twenty-three percent were 75 or older and 29% were 65 to 74, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

About 68,000 South Dakota men and women enrolled in the military during World War II.

A study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and National Center for Veterans Analysis
and Statistics showed the Korean Conflict veterans and and Vietnam Era veterans are estimated to have longer life expectancy than World War II veterans. The study is called “Mortality Rates and Life Expectancy of Veterans from 1980 to 2017, and by Education, Income, and
Period of Service.”