We should also never forget the American forces we lost over the past year - we can only hope they knew the depths of our gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
Nelson Mandela - the revered South African president and Nobel Peace prize laureate spent decades fighting apartheid. The international icon served as his country's first black president after spending 27 years in prison.
British journalist sir David Frost, best known for his historic interview with President Nixon, also interviewed another iconic figure who passed in 2013, Magaret Thatcher
The first and only female British Prime Minister, "the Iron Lady", was one of the most influential leaders of the twentieth century.
Malcom Scott Carpenter, a pioneer in space exploration, was the second American to orbit the earth.
Spy thriller writer Tom Clancy captivated his readers with stories of espionage and military drama.
Musician Lou Reed was best known for his work with the band the 'Velvet Underground' and his music moved generations with songs like 'Sweet Jane'.
Country singer and songwriter George Jones had 143 top 40 country hits in five decades.
Pat Summerall was a football legend turned play-by play announcer.
He was simply 'the man'
Hall of fame St Louis Cardinals outfielder, Stan Musial made a name for himself as one of baseball's best hitters of all time.
Pauline Phillips also known as 'Abigail Van Buren'- went from being a housewife to the famous syndicated advice columnist, "Dear Abby."
Doctor Joyce Brothers was the mother of media psychology.
Roger Ebert passed away. Ebert and Gene Siskel co-hosted the iconic review show 'Siskel and Ebert at the movies' until Siskel's death in 1999
Actor James Gandolfini was best known for his role as anxiety-ridden mob boss on HBOs The Sopranos.
Dennis Farina was best known for his tough-as-nails work in TV series "Law and Order" "Crime Story" and "Miami Vice."
Annette Funicello was only 13 when she was selected by Walt Disney himself to be one of the first "Mouseketeers."
Comedian Jonathan Winters was a wildly innovative actor and funnyman.
You knew Jean Stapleton best as "Edith" or Archie Bunker's wife in the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom 'All in the Family'
Two actors taken just as they were enjoying their prime. Cory Monteith - best known for his role as Finn Hudson on TV’s "Glee."
And Paul Walker who gained worldwide popularity as Brian O’Conner in "The Fast and Furious" film franchise.