As most everyone should know by know, our last World War I veteran passed away earlier this week.
No, Frank Buckles didn’t cross the no-man’s land, fighting from trench to trench. He wasn’t one of the famous flyboys. He wasn’t an officer. He wasn’t even wounded. BUT, he was there, and he was the last American veteran of that war. Not to mention, in his service as a volunteer, he made a sacrifice that many in Congress can’t even relate to.
Yet, some in Congress don’t think that’s significant enough to permit his remains to lay “in honor” under the Capitol Rotunda.
Why do you think they resist this honor?
What is to be gained on the political battleground for this resistance? Is this even something appropriate to politicize? Of course, it’s not. So, what’s the message in this refusal?
So what if Frank Buckles wasn’t a Sergeant York. Buckles represents the end of an era. Being allowed to lay in honor in the Capitol is not just an honor to Mr. Buckles, it’s the last chance for us, the living, through him, to honor all those who passed before him. Buckles gives us a moment to pause, and remember something that, I think, has been too easily forgotten… the World War I veteran(*) and his/her (yes, American women were over there as well) sacrifices.
When I visited the National World War I Museum this past summer, I saw Buckles photos in several places there, and thought to myself, “Wow, how amazing it is that we still have a living connection in our last surviving veteran.” But, he’s gone now, and with that, we no longer have a living voice, an active memory, of a single American who was in that war. Granted, it was going to happen eventually, but how sad that is that the last is gone, and we can’t see justice done in his passing.
So, as representatives of the American people, are those who resist in Congress not failing US, once again. We want to see OUR OWN honored, and done so the right way. Since some want to turn this into something political… at least it appears so… it should be our decision, not yours.
*An example of how forgotten the WWI veteran really is… the Meusse-Argonne Cemetery is overshadowed in significance by, for example, the Normandy American Cemetery. I can’t seem to find the story, but I recall reading how an American was visiting the Meusse-Argonne Cemetery on Memorial Day, and yet, there were no efforts by the U.S. to mark the day there, as compared to the efforts, at the same time, at Normandy. Officials there (French, I believe) asked the American visitor if he would be so kind as to participate in a ceremony. Sad.