The solemn ritual plays out dozens of times every day with a neatly folded flag, a crisp salute and one more goodbye to a fast-fading generation of soldiers, sailors and Marines. These were the men who made history in places such as Normandy and Anzio, Iwo Jima and Peleliu, vets who came home and helped build highways and houses, toiled in factories and offices, even launched their own companies. They were the ones lucky enough to see their hair turn silver, to dance at their children's weddings, to cuddle their grandchildren. But the ranks of World War II vets are shrinking. The youngest are now in their mid-80s. About 650 die each day, thousands are laid to rest every week. Beyond these numbers, there are individual stories of ordinary lives shaped by an extraordinary chapter. The first seven days in May offer a small glimpse. Among the many who died in that one week were five veterans who took vastly different journeys in life. They were men who had business savvy, artistic gifts and heroic careers — and in some cases, men who finally came to terms with the world they left behind long ago.