Friday, August 12, 2011

Last Of the Doughboy - World War I

By now most of America has heard of Frank W. Buckles. He was the last surviving American doughboy. He passed away Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the age of 110.
Mr. Buckles saw the beginning of two centuries. In the years between 1901 and 2011, driving and flying, instead of horse-drawn carriage and train, became the normal forms of transportation. Worldwide communication began its transformation the same year that Frank was born with the first transatlantic radio signal. By the time he died, he had a Facebook page and could communicate instantly online with almost any area of the world. Frank witnessed WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and Operation Enduring Freedom. He lived through the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, the Golden Age, the Cold War, and the first decade of the 21st century. He saw the leader of our country change 19 times, leaders of other countries rise and fall, and the face of the world change more than once.

Corporal Buckles didn’t just watch some of the most notable events in history from afar; he was an active participant. Because he was eager to get into the fight, at the age of 15 he “misrepresented” his age, and after failed attempts with the Navy and Marines, he enlisted in the Army. He said that even at that age he understood that the war was a serious situation.

In 1917, at the age of 16, Buckles shipped out for duty. He would end up as an ambulance driver in France. He wouldn’t actually get to fight, but he would see the results of our first modern war.

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in 1941, Frank had the misfortune of being in Manila on business. He was held captive for 3-plus years. Frank’s misfortune was perhaps to the benefit of his fellow captives. Even though he was very ill, he encouraged his fellow inmates and even led calisthenics to keep up their morale and their health.

In 2008, at the age of 107, Frank took up the cause of honoring WWI veterans with a national monument. In December, 2009, he testified before the Senate Energy and National Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. The bill he was advocating was aptly named the Frank Buckles WWI Memorial Act. It was important to him, as it should be to us all, that no one forgets the brave men and women who fought in the “war to end all wars.”
To learn more about Mr. Buckle and Historical Truth 101 visit!

Sheri Dee

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