Frank Buckles, whom I wrote about turning 110 off earlier this month, has sadly passed away quietly at his home. Story from the Washington Post here. He was the last surviving verified WW1 veteran in the US and the oldest of the 3 remaining veterans in the world. Per a rare exception to regulations granted by then President George W. Bush, at the bequest and urging of Ross Perot, Buckles will be allowed to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery although he was neither killed, wounded or awarded a Medal of Honor but due to his unique status at the time. He will be buried by the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) with full military honors befitting a veteran of his status. Its expected that both the British and French governments will be sending representatives to the funeral.
Sad day realizing that eventually all of the veterans of our "modern" conflicts will one day share the same fate. What then? While we, as a nation, choose to remember specific conflicts of our history (Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars) what happens to the memory of those "lesser" conflicts that we seem to overlook as a society...War of 1812, Mexican-American War, the Philippine conflict or even something as recent as Grenada? Where do the memories of those veterans that have served and died remain? I guess one day all of our veterans and all of our conflicts will probably be relegated to some obscure paragraph in a history textbook in the future for somebody studying "Ancient civilizations" in the year 2250 AD (sorry, I refuse to use the BCE and ACE thing) the same way as we recall only a few sacrifices made by the ancient Greeks and others of their time now. Sad indeed.
What a unique pair of bookends for the month of February his story has been. In honor of his memory and passing I will not post any further items on this blog until tomorrow so that his story and image may retain a place of honor here as the topmost story of the day.
Rest in peace doughboy….your comrades await you on the other side.