The National World War II Memorial, in Washington, D.C., honors more than 16 million people who served in the U.S. armed forces and some 400,000 who lost their lives during the war. They came from big cities and small towns across the country; places such as Circle, Mont., population 644. The vast prairie of eastern Montana, a rugged landscape of cattle and sheep ranches, has always been a tough place to live. In the mid-1800s, brave homesteaders put up tar-paper shacks and sod houses. More hardy souls arrived in the new century, but many gave up during the Depression. The "greatest generation" did its job. Its members felt a sense of duty and headed off to a distant war. Circle residents came home to little, if any, celebration and went straight back to work, mostly on farms and ranches. Estimates vary about how many served in the war from McCone County, for which Circle is the county seatvarious books and newspaper clippings peg it from 421 to 540. But today, at last count by the Census Bureau, just 23 World War II vets are left in Circle.