Cover photo by Holgor H

Today, we stand with the rest of the world in honoring the men and women—living and deceased—who have dedicated their lives in the service of their countries. Wherever you are in the world, whether you call it Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, these striking portraits of surviving veterans are thought-provoking, and will give you pause about living in a world with a long history of war.

Scroll down to get a glimpse at these faces. Plus, the moving stories behind the shots from the 500px photographers that captured them.

Dusty by Dave Brosha on

“We talk about heroes. Here’s one, and one of the last of his kind. Douglas “Dusty” Haig Miller, born 1919, age 95. Yellowknife’s last World War II veteran.” – Dave Brosha

veteran by Roman Shalenkin on

“I’m photographing veterans of a factory in a city called Barnaul. The factory manufactures different items for jet fighters and for other army applications. They talk a lot about how much time they had to spend underwater. Or about times when they were going through initiation—they had to drink a mouthful of sea water after drinking a full glass of vodka.” – Roman Shalenkin (translated into English)

A Man and His Plane by Scott Mohrman on

“The Wings of Freedom Tour at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport in March 2014. Ernest Walden is a 96-year-old World War II veteran flight instructor. Behind him is a P-51C Mustang, a long range fighter/bomber.” – Scott Mohrman

The Cost of War by Danny Postawa on

“Army combat veteran, Joe, lost both of his legs on a combat mission in Iraq when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated underneath his vehicle.” – Danny Postawa

My friend Rocky Moretto remembering far too many of his fallen comrades lost during the Battle of th by Alan Shapiro on

“My friend Rocky Moretto remembering far too many of his fallen comrades lost during the Battle of the Bulge.” – Alan Shapiro

Veterans Day NYC 11 11 11 Sgt. Richard Yarosh by Robert Ullmann on

“Veteran’s Day NYC 11/11/11, Sgt. Richard Yarosh.” – Robert Ullmann

STRANGER #21 by Jeff Vaillancourt on

“I took this picture just over a month ago. I met this man walking down the middle of 6th Street. I introduced myself and he told me his name was Sergeant. I approached Sergeant because of his beret and the Army digital camo he was wearing. Clearly both the beret and the uniform were issued long after his stint in the military, but he carried himself like a soldier and I wasn’t at all surprised to find out he’d served in the Army several years ago.

On that warm October night it was clear that Sergeant had been in a recent scuffle. His left eye was nearly swollen shut and he could barely talk. In fact, the only thing I clearly understood was his name, Sergeant. Since we really couldn’t communicate I asked Sergeant if I could take his picture and we parted ways. This is the picture I took.

This past weekend I ran into Sergeant again. We shook hands and talked. I noticed was that he had healed up and was looking healthy again. Next I noticed the size of his hand as I shook it. It was like shaking hands with a roast beef. He was a bit easier to understand, but he talks really fast and mumbles. I had a hard time comprehending all he was saying, especially with all the live music spilling out onto 6th Street.

Sergeant is 58 years old and did serve in the Army, though I didn’t get any details about his stint. Recently he’s been going to the VA hospital to get his health issues addressed and was very thankful for the VA.” – Jeff Vaillancourt

Another day, another long night  by Alan Shapiro on

“I love talking to people. And making portraits after the conversation has gone someplace interesting. But sometimes those conversations take a turn and leave me feeling saddened… or in this case, filled with despair.

I ended up apologizing to Dan for stirring up memories… of Storm-filled times in the Desert, of friends who didn’t come back and of too many conversations about politics and nowhere near enough conversations about duty and honor and service.

But he said something profound that moved me. He said “Veteran’s Day is coming up soon enough. And instead of keeping these memories bottled up, maybe they need to be shared more. So don’t be sorry. Go show as many people as possible how it feels for some of us. Besides, I’m sorry enough for everyone.” – Alan Shapiro

100 years of bravery by Alexandra Jitariuc on

“Constantin Guran is one of the few veterans left. He was born on the 14th of August 1914, in the Tetoiu Village, Romania.” – Alexandra Jitariuc

Korea veterans by Ahmet DA? on

veteran by ????? ???????? on

Veteran by Kevin Knipping on

“Street portrait of a veteran.” – Kevin Knipping

??? (Li Shui Wang) by Michael Steverson on

“I met Li Shui Wang earlier this year in Kunming. The old man was sitting on a bench in a small park intently watching me as I struggled with two lenses, my camera and a bag all while attempting to change said lenses. Mr. Li recognized my dilemma and invited me over to share his bench where he immediately started talking a blue streak, most of which I did not initially understand.

I smiled politely and nodded a lot and went to work changing out the lenses. I noticed the ID hanging around his neck with the name Li Shui something. I said out loud, “Li Shui”, and his eyes brightened. He became even more animated, talking rapid-fire old-man Chinese that I was having a very hard time with.

Eventually my friend Eddy came over and between the two of us we were able to determine that old Mr. Li was a decorated veteran, a Kunming native, and 90 years old. He was sharp as a tack with the kind of sparkle in his eyes that I only hope my grandchildren will experience one day when talking with me.” – Michael Steverson

Veterans Day NYC 11 11 11 by Robert Ullmann on

“Veterans Day NYC 11/11/11.” – Robert Ullmann

veteran by Tatiana Isaeva-Kashtanova on

Memory by Ariel Leshinsky on

Veteran by Josué Teixeira on

“José Kochinski is a veteran from the Brazilian Expedicionary Force (FEB in portuguese). As a soldier, Jose Kochinski worked protecting the president´s palace in Rio de Janeiro during WWII.” – Josué Teixeira

eternal gratitude to veterans of D-Day. by Jean-luc Parmentier on

“Sainte Mère Eglise, France” – Jelpa Photographie

The War Photographer by Adam Hill on

Memorial Day • New York City by Kevin Fleming on

“This veteran in New York City was born in Poland and survived the World War I years in Europe. He immigrated to the USA as a child. During World War II he served with the U.S. Army in Europe. His face and message spoke volumes during a Memorial Day ceremony in Central Park.” – Kevin Fleming

*** by Alex Bykov on

“An old hero of World War II. Veterans and contemporaries of that war are dying and soon they’ll be gone. So I considered it important to recall some of the dry facts. World War II was the most widespread war in history, served in the war of 72 States that existed at the time (80% of the world population).

Combat operations were conducted on the territory of three continents and in the waters of the four oceans. It resulted in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities. These deaths make the war the deadliest conflict in human history.” – Alex Bykov