This is not the post I planned for today, but one I feel I must write anyway. Frank Buckles, the last surviving American WWI vet passed away on Feb 27 at his home of natural causes. If you've read my blog for a while, you know I have a soft place in my heart for Mr. Buckles. I actually shed a tear or two when I read the news that he was gone. An entire generation of fighting men is forever lost to us now.
Mr. Buckles was born in 1901 and lied to recruiters about his age to join the fighting forces in 1917. He told the Army recruiter he was 18, but was really a mere 16 1/2. He served in England and France during WWI, mostly as a driver and clerk. He helped return German prisoners after Armistice Day and returned to the US in early 1920.
During WWII, Mr. Buckles worked for White Star Line Co. and was captured in the Philippines. He would spend 3 years in Japanese prison camps before returning to America.
In his later years, Mr. Buckles took up the cause of a National WWI memorial. To this day, there is not one honoring the approximately 16 million (MILLION) men and women who served during the "War to End All Wars." This was a war that changed the face of Europe and the world in general. It is unbelievable that almost 100 years later there is still no memorial. Mr. Buckles made it his mission to see a memorial built. If you'd like to honor Mr. Buckles memory and help with the funding for the National WWI memorial, you can donate here. Details of his funeral have not been released, but it is said that Arlington lifted the restrictions that would keep him from being buried there. As a military veteran, he can have his ashes interred at Arlington, but since he never earned one of the 5 medals required for burial (though in his own words "Didn't I make every effort?"), is technically barred from an underground burial. I hope they have lifted the restriction for him. Even if he didn't earn one of the medals required, he is a true patriot and made it his life's work to honor and keep alive the memory of all those who did fight and die during the "Great War."