[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Update: We have video, below the fold.
The last living World War I veteran from the United States has died:
Frank W. Buckles died early Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused.
In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. “I knew there’d be only one someday,” he said a few years back. “I didn’t think it would be me.”
His daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, said Mr. Buckles, a widower, died of natural causes on his West Virginia farm, where she had been caring for him.
Buckles’ distant generation was the first to witness the awful toll of modern, mechanized warfare. As time thinned the ranks of those long-ago U.S. veterans, the nation hardly noticed them vanishing, until the roster dwindled to one ex-soldier, embraced in his final years by an appreciative public.
“Frank was a history book in and of himself, the kind you can’t get at the library,” said his friend, Muriel Sue Kerr. Having lived from the dawn of the 20th century, he seemed to never tire of sharing his and the country’s old memories – of the First World War, of roaring prosperity and epic depression, and of a second, far more cataclysmic global conflict, which he barely survived.
Read the whole thing. In the march of time, we constantly lose one of our most precious resources: the men and women who were eyewitnesses to the events most us only read in schoolbooks. Although the family rightfully mourns him just as a man, and we as a nation give him our thanks for his service, we also mourn that now there is no one alive today, who can tell us what it was like to fight for America in the so-called “War to End All Wars.”
Godspeed, Mr. Buckles.
Update: Via Hot Air, we get two moving videos. One is a news feature on him:
The other is a trailer for a documentary about him.
Buckles might be silent today, but this documentarian preserved his voice and his memories, to a certain degree. I personally think that is a very good reason to see this movie—to reward that effort and to encourage others to make a similar effort in the future.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]