The U.S. Civil War officially ended 148 years ago this spring, and will likely be unofficially wrapping up any day now. But not quite yet. According to the AP, two children of veterans are still receiving benefits as a result of their fathers' service.
Years after the war ended, it was common for very young women to marry very old veterans (often after the soldiers' first wives had died), so that they could receive a widow's pension after their husbands' deaths.
But who are these children with the dads who are so old fashioned they think 14 is a little old to start dating? Who wouldn't let their kids practice flute in the house because it reminded them of infantry fifers? Who can't even figure out how to work the camera on their cell phone LOL?
While the survivors' names have not been released for privacy reasons, we do know that one lives in Tennessee, the other in North Carolina. The Tennessean survivor was born around 1920, and the North Carolinian was born around 1930. (A veteran who was 15 when the Civil War ended would have turned 80 in 1930.) Each beneficiary receives $876 per year.
It's possible the recipients continue to receive their father's pensions into adulthood because they both suffered some disability that prevented them from supporting themselves financially. U.S. News & World Report writes that, as of last year, both were found to be "in poor health."
It's not clear which side of the conflict the soldiers were veterans of; initially, only Union vets were eligible for federal benefits, though Southern states drew up their own individual laws about compensating Confederate veterans. Federal assistance opened up to Confederate soldiers several decades after the war ended.
The total cost of compensating veterans and survivors from the Civil War—and, uh, all other wars that Americans participated in after it, including those happening now—is around $40 billion per year.
The value of bringing your dad to school on Career Day and having him open with "This reminds me of something that happened during the Civil War..." is priceless.
(UPDATE: The Daily Mail claims that one of the survivors died last summer.)