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Last WWI vet honored by White House, Pentagon

 
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Emiel



Geregistreerd op: 22-7-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Mrt 2008 18:16    Onderwerp: Last WWI vet honored by White House, Pentagon Reageer met quote

Last WWI vet honored by White House, Pentagon
President Bush today introduced "Frank Buckles, 107-years-young... the last living Doughboy from World War I.'' White House photo by Eric Draper

by Aamer Madhani


He fought the Kaiser with the U.S. Army during World War I. As a civilian working in the Philippines shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was taken prisoner of war and ate out of the same tin cup for his more than three-year-long imprisonment.

Today, the 107-year-old Frank Buckles—the last known U.S. military veteran to serve during World War I— was honored with a White House visit and was made the guest of honor at a ceremony at the Pentagon where portraits of Buckles and eight other World War I veterans were unveiled.

“Mr. Buckles' mind is sharp, his memory is crisp, and he's been sharing with me some interesting anecdotes,” President Bush said during Buckles' Oval Office visit. “I asked him where he lived, and he said, that reminds me of what General Pershing asked me. And he told the General that he was raised on a farm in Missouri. And the General said, ‘Well, you know, as the crow flies, it's 40 miles from where I was raised.’”

I was similarly impressed by Buckles when I visited him last year with photographer Peter Souza at his 330-acre farm in West Virginia. During the visit, he told me he was still working the tractor at his place past his 100th birthday.

Buckles was a 16-year-old from Missouri when he lied about his age so he could ship off to Europe. During the war, he drove ambulances in England and France. He later assisted with the repatriation of German prisoners of war.

Now at 107, he is one of only two known World War I veterans still living in the United States. The other veteran, John Babcock, lives in Washington State and served with the Canadian military during the war. He became an U.S. citizen in 1946.

Babcock was also invited to attend the Pentagon ceremony, but could not make it.

David DeJonge, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based photographer, began documenting the last World War I survivors in 1996. Of the nine portraits that were displayed today, five of those veterans died within weeks of their sessions with DeJonge.

Sitting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Army Secretary Peter Geren today in front of a jam packed Pentagon auditorium, Buckles told his audience that he was delighted to be honored. He only spoke briefly, but the crowd —who took a break from work to hear him speak—hung on his every word and offered him a standing ovation.

Gates noted that World War I is not very well understood by Americans today. Decades have passed since Hollywood has paid much attention to the war that cost more American lives that Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

But the war that Buckles witnessed from the frontlines was very much prologue to some of the conflicts that still absorb us.

“It has been said the 21st century effectively began when a jetliner hit the World Trade Center’s North tower on Sept. 11, 2001,” Gates said. “The 20th century truly began with the Archduke’s assassination in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The war which started over a fight of Balkan independence left in its wake a redrawn map of Europe and the Middle East, including the demarcation of a land called Mesopotamia that is now known as Iraq.

Gates added, “From Baghdad to Belgrade, the places that matter then are in the forefront of our consciousness today.”
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Tandorini



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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Mrt 2008 18:51    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

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BerichtGeplaatst: 08 Mrt 2008 19:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

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