(CBS News) And now a page from our Sunday Morning Almanac: November 11th, 1885, 127 years ago today . . . a day of future consequence for the U.S. Army.
For that was the day George S. Patton was born in San Gabriel, Calif.
Patton attended West Point, and served as an officer in the Army's brand new Tank Corps during World War I.
By sheer chance, the Armistice that ended the war in 1918 was declared on his 33rd birthday . . . November 11th, the date we now mark as Veterans Day.
By World War II, George Patton was a general, credited with decisive U.S. victories in North Africa, France and Germany.
Along the way, he attracted public attention with his very personal and sometimes controversial style of leadership, portrayed by George C. Scott in the 1970 film "Patton," from the rousing way he addressed his troops ("All real Americans love the sting of battle") to the widely-reported incident in 1943 when he slapped a soldier hospitalized with combat fatigue. ("Why hell, you're just a g-----n coward! I won't have a yellow bastard crying in front of these brave men who have been wounded in battle!")
Patton lived down the notoriety of that outburst to become a national hero by war's end, and during a brief return visit to America in June of 1945 shortly after VE Day he offered a stark description of battle, and a of site "marked by more than 40,000 white crosses."
A survivor of two World Wars, General George S. Patton did not survive the peace.
He died in Germany of injuries from a traffic accident just before Christmas of 1945.
However, nearly 16 million other Americans who served in World War II DID come home, and nearly 70 years later nearly two million of them are still alive today . . . roughly a tenth of the more than 22 million Americans whom we are honoring THIS Veterans Day.
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