Monday, May 26, 2008

The Last Doughboy

Read the followin g article by George Will. If Frank Buckles was visiting Harrisonburg and you were chosen to make the official greeting speech, what would you say? Write a paragraph or two in the comments section.

The Last Doughboy

By George F. Will
Sunday, May 25, 2008; B07

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Numbers come precisely from the agile mind and nimble tongue of Frank Buckles, who seems bemused to say that 4,734,991 Americans served in the military during America's involvement in the First World War and that 4,734,990 are gone. He is feeling fine, thank you for asking.

The eyes of the last doughboy are still sharp enough for him to be a keen reader, and his voice is still deep and strong at age 107. He must have been a fine broth of a boy when, at 16, persistence paid off and he found, in Oklahoma City, an Army recruiter who believed, or pretended to, the fibs he had unavailingly told to Marine and Navy recruiters in Kansas about being 18. He grew up on a Missouri farm, not far from where two eminent generals were born -- John "Black Jack" Pershing and Omar Bradley.

"Boys in the country," says Buckles, "read the papers," so he was eager to get into the fight over there. He was told that the quickest way was to train for casualty retrieval and ambulance operations. Soon he was headed for England aboard the passenger ship Carpathia, which was celebrated for having, five years earlier, rescued survivors from the Titanic.

Buckles never saw combat, but "I saw the results." He seems vague about only one thing: What was the First World War about?

Before leaving England for France, he was stationed near Winchester College, where he noticed "Buckles" among the names that boys had carved in their desks. This ignited his interest in genealogy, which led him to discover that his ancestor Robert Buckles, born in Yorkshire on May 15, 1702, arrived at age 30 in what is now West Virginia.

After Cpl. Buckles was mustered out of the Army in 1920 with $143.90 in his pocket, he went to business school in Oklahoma City for five months, then rented a typewriter for $3 a month and sent out job applications. One landed him work in the steamship business, which took him around the world -- Latin America, China, Manchuria. And Germany, where, he says, in 1928 "two impressive gentlemen" told him, "We are preparing for another war."

Behind glass in a cabinet in his small sitting room are mementos from his eventful life: a German army belt with a buckle bearing words all nations believe, "Gott Mit Uns" (God Is With Us). The tin cup from which he ate all his meals, such as they were, during the 39 months he was a prisoner of the Japanese -- because he was working for a shipping company in Manila on Dec. 7, 1941.

Widowed in 1999, this man who was born during the administration of the 25th president recently voted in West Virginia's primary to select a candidate to be the 44th. His favorite president of his lifetime? The oldest, Ronald Reagan.

Buckles is reading David McCullough's "1776." That date is just 18 years more distant from his birth than today is.

This Memorial Day, Buckles will be feted back in Missouri, at the annual parade and fireworks in Kansas City. Perhaps he will journey to Bethany, to the house on whose porch he sat at age 3, 104 years ago.

He was born in February 1901, seven months before President William McKinley was assassinated. If Buckles had been born 14 months earlier, he would have lived in three centuries. He has lived through 46 percent of the nation's life, a percentage that rises each morning when he does.

On June 28, 1914, an assassin's bullet in Sarajevo killed the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The war that followed took more than 116,000 American lives -- more than all of America's wars after the Second World War. And in a sense, the First World War took many more American lives because it led to the Second World War and beyond.

The First World War is still taking American lives because it destroyed the Austro-Hungarian, Romanoff and Ottoman empires. A shard of the latter is called Iraq.

The 20th century's winds of war blew billions of ordinary people hither and yon. One of them sits here in a cardigan sweater in an old wood and stone house on a rise on a 330-acre cattle farm. In this case, and probably in every case, the word "ordinary" is inappropriate.

36 comments:

GiveAndySome said...

Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us today the last surviving American WWI veteran, Mr. Frank Buckles. A man who has lived in almost three centuries, has traveled all over the world, and is our honored speaker here today. Please join me in welcoming, Frank Buckles. *wild applause and cheering commences*

agent gregg said...

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It warms my heart to see so many of you here today to see Mr. Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I. I am glad that so many Americans are finally showing an interest in what could be seen as America's "forgotten war". Mr. Buckles is the last firsthand account we have of our involvement in "The Great War" and I would urge Americans to hear his story before it too is lost to the ages.

MerryMeredith said...

Good Afternoon. Today we are honored to have the last veteran of WWI with has. Frank Buckles is last person we have with memories of actual war involvement. Today we would like to welcome him as he tells us about his life.

Matt said...

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am extremely proud do introduce the last surviving American World War One veteran! His story is one that is all but lost to the people of America. Now, I present Mr. Frank Buckles to share the story of his experiences in the Great War.

ginnypig said...

Good afternoon. I am honored today to introduce the last surviving U.S. veteran of WWI. I strongly encourage you to listen intently to this remarkable man as he shares his story with each of us. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to our guest, Mr. Frank Buckles.

funnyfaith said...

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. Today we are honored to have with us the last US vetern of World War I, Frank Buckles. This man has seen a lot of changes in the world and can share a lot with us today. Please help me in giving a warm welcome to Frank Buckles.

ryanryanryann said...

Good afternoon.Today in honor of Memorial Day, we have an very important person to join us in celebration. This man has lived through more than ten decades,almost three centuries and through three wars. Let's give our historic guest, Mr. Frank Buckles, a warm welcome!

ScottyB said...

It is my pleasure to welcome the last world war I veteran Frank Buckles. Buckles is now 107 years old, having almost lived in 3 centuries and having lived through 46 percent of our nations history. A man who has been actively involved in our nation, let's give a warm round of applause for Mr. Frank Buckles!

Gracefull said...

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you one of the coolest people I know. Not only has he lived in nearly three centries, but at the age of 107 he's the last man standing of the 4,734,991 soldiers who served during WW1. He has served this country well and we are all proud. Please give it up for Frank Buckles!!

laughinglizliz said...

Good afternoon! Today we are joined by the last WWII war veteran, Frank Buckles. Today Mr. Buckles is going to tell us about his life and experiences during and after the war. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Buckles!!

Wacky Wendy said...

Ladies and Gentlemen you are in for quite a treat today! You will be hearing from Mr. Frank Buckles the last surviving US World War I veteran. He has many memories and stories he has lived though and would like to share with you today, so please help me in giving a warm welcome to Mr.Frank Buckles.

chalangsta said...

Ladies and gentlemen, with us today is man who is as old as history. He was a soldier for the Americans in WW1, He did not do any fighting. But he saw what it could do. It is my proud honor to introduce the man who fought for our country, Mr. Frank Buckles!!!!!!!!

Atomic Dead Head said...

Sup Y'all! Let me be the first to welcome you to Harrisonburg's third annual Memorial day fish-fry-and-skeet-shoot-on-The-Square. Today we've got a very special guest. This man has lived in two centuries and eleven decades, he fought in a war nobody remembers, and got a B+ Larry White's chemistry class in 1915. This man is a shining (and very very old) example to the rest of you godless heathen children who wouldn't last five seconds in the army, much less the marines, this guy also cost about half as much as the Normandy vet would have, so lets give a big down-home welcome to Mr. Frank... (discreetly ask intern for last name) ...Buckles!

Anonymous said...

ladies and gentlemen. i know most have you werent born anywhere the time of world war one, so we got the last guy alive who fought in it. please welcome frank buckles.

chris

dancer maria said...

Ladies and gentleman, today Mr. Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. WWI veteran has been kind enough to honor us with his presence for our Memorial Day celebration. Please welcome the 107 year old veteran with due respect and appreciation, and enjoy the holiday!

Anonymous said...

Gangsta David is pround to welcome a very special person to harrisonburg. He is the last surviving WWI veteran. He has lived 46% of the countries life. At 107 years old, he has almost lived in 3 centuries. Please welcome Mr. Frank Buckles.

~gangsta david~

energetic emily said...

Ladies and gentleman, today we have with us the last surviving WWI veteran. He has lived through 46 percent of our nations history and has many stories to share with us today. So please help me in welcoming Frank Buckles.

Kommunists-are-bad Karl said...

Good afternoon, I would like to thank you all for coming to this very special event celebrating our nation's veterans. Today we would like to give an enthusiastic and respectful welcome to a man who served in one of the greatest military conflicts of the twentieth century. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Frank Buckles, the last surviving American Serviceman from WWI.

dropABeat said...

It is my pleasure to introduce to you all Mr. Frank Buckles. He is the last surviving veteran of World War I. Mr. Buckles has lived through the country's growth for 107 years. I am honored that he has taken the time to come and speak with us. Please join me in giving him a warm welcome.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and germs today vistiting the alright town of harrisonburg va we the last surviving ww1 vet. Mr. Frank Buckles , we are honored to have him here with us today thank you
-John Wilson

Where'sWeston? said...

Ladies and gentlemen, we are honored today to have here with us the last surviving American veteran who served in World War I. A piece of living history, having honorably served our nation, traveled the globe, and experienced over a century of American history, please join me in welcoming Frank Buckles.

susurrous aleina said...

Today for our audience we have quite an honorable guest. Last living U.S. veteran of World War I, this man has seen and experienced a great portion the history you read about in your high school U.S. History textbooks. Here to share some of his story, we have Mr. Frank Buckles. Please join me in welcoming him to the stage.

Anonymous said...

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Today we have with us a man who has lived through over 10 decades, three wars and 46 percent of our nations history, and has traveled all over the globe. He is the last surving veteran of World War one. The last of 4,734,991 soldiers. Please join me in welcoming a man who has lived through so much and is here on this special day to celebrate it all. Please welcome Mr. Frank Buckles to the stage."
~Baby swaz

RidiculousRupal said...

Ladies and gentlemen of Harrisonburg, Virginia, please help me in welcoming the last surviving veteren of World War I, Mr. Frank Buckles. Mr. Buckles has not only served in World War I but has also been part of the German army, and a prisoner of the Japanese. Mr. Buckles has lived in two centuries but a mere 14 months shy of a third. Please welcome 107 year old, Mr. Frank Buckles.

Anonymous said...

"Hey ya'll! Guess who popped right in to our quiet little town for a visit: No, not a pile of mashed potatoes, that's just his skin folded over his body since he's so old. Oh, I think I heard it, Mr. Frank Buckles! Now get on with the wavin' of your lil' American Flags, and finish putting up your ceramic Frank Buckles lawn ornaments, because we have a moderately significant figure visiting our town. Men, and less important and unequal woman: Frank Buckles!

-Parker

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. In honor of Memorial Day, we have a special guest here today. Mr. Frank Buckles is the last surviving veteren of World War I. We are honored that he is here with us to today. Please join me in welcoming our guest, Mr. Buckles!

noandrew said...

I'd say something along the lines of "we are very honored to have among us today the very best kind of veteran: one who belived in his cause so strongly that he went above the law to follow it. The last surviving veteran of wwi, Frank buckles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Where'd he go?

ryan the ridiculous said...

You all have never seen a BetaMax, never used a record player, and have never sent a telegram. But the man who is here with us has seen these and many things before in his own lifetime, one that has witnessed nearly half of our great nations life. This man has a great passion for history, and has come here to share his passion with you. Please, let us welcome Mr. Frank Buckles.

Explorer Elizabeth said...

Good morning ladies and gentleman. I am honored to introduce you to such an extroidinary man as Mr. Frank Buckles. Being the last surviving veteran of World War I, I hope that you will join me in warmly welcoming him- FRANK BUCKLES! *crazy applause and a standing ovation (even before he speaks)*

tinytim said...

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, UNITED STATES CITIZENS OF ALL AGES .... I present to you, the one, the only, survivor of world war number one, Frank "THE TANK" Buckles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (crowd goes wild) ... settle down, settle down. Now hang on his every word because he is our last living firsthand source of WWI

maddiecake said...

To be honest, I would steal a lot from that article.
Ladies and gentleman, 4,734,991 Americans served in the military during the First World War, and 4,734,990 are dead. Mr. Frank Buckles stands before you at age 107 as the last remaining 'doughboy.'

(I find that numbers are always impressive).

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon! You are all in for a special treat this afternoon. Mr. Frank Buckles stands beside me as the last living WWI veteran. He is 107 years old and in impeccable shape. He was born 14 months shy of the 19th century and does not plan on slowing down. Ladies and gentleman, MR. FRANK BUCKLES!

~Jessy

Anonymous said...

May I have your attention please? Today we celebrate the men and women who serve in our armed forces to help preserve the liberty that we as Americans enjoy. Joining us today is man with infinate knowledge of leadership, bravery, and sacrifice. He has stood the test of time and we are proud to have him with us today. Please join me in welcoming the last surviving vet of WWI, Mr. Frank Buckles.

-Just for Kicks Jordan-

joyful said...

(Our Ap Us class)

Guys, today we have with us a very importnat man. He is the last surviving World War 1 veteran, and has lived almost three centuries. He has been alive for half the amount of time that that our country has, and is here to share about his experiences. Please listen and learn because this is one of the most important sources you will ever find.

Anonymous said...

Today we recognize the last surviving World War II veteran. In his many years of service, Frank has seen many changes in the way of life. I proud to introduce todays speaker, Mr. Frank Buckles.

Russ

Anonymous said...

tueting you have really let the blog go. chalang