By Xeni Jardin at 8:10 am Mon, Feb 28, 2011
My grandfather was the last in his state.
No matter how much we begged, he wouldn’t tell us anything about his experiences. He said he “didn’t want to be one of those old people who went on and on with stories from their younger days.”
May they all rest in peace now.
NPR had a piece on him today, and included some audio from an interview conducted with him a few years ago. Amazing guy — he was later on, during WWII, captured by the Japanese (as a civilian) in the Philippines and spent 3 and a half years at the infamous Los Banos prison camp.
“I was never actually looking for adventure,” he once said. “It just came to me.”
A college friend’s grandmother was at one time the oldest surviving female US veteran, based on her service as a yeomanette during WWI.
Remarkable to think that a war that killed so many young men would have a survivor who lasted so long.
“War to End All Wars”
When I spent ten weeks training to be a chaplain at the Dayton, Ohio VA I found out something that I hadn’t realized – our veteran’s hospitals never finish caring for veterans from one conflict before they start receiving those from a more recent event. During Mr. Buckles life veterans emerged from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, 1st Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, and whatever few other conflicts I’ve forgotten. Dayton staff still remembered their last WWI vet, they had recently lost a Tuskegee Airman, and were overloaded with WWII and Vietnam vets. After WWII General Omar Bradley came home to assume responsibility for the vet’s medical care. He found a system in chaos and cleaned it up. It slowly fell into chaos again until someone made a film called “Article 99″, a farce which showed the real barriers Vietnam vets were facing. The VA was so embarrassed by the film that it started reforming itself, and despite some recent faux pas, has become a leading edge care organization again. If I am wrong in some of my facts, please jump in to correct and expand on this discussion.
I was raised a Jehovah’t Witness. LOL. Emailed story above to my dad along with the last remaining 3, one in UK, the other in Poland and one in Australia. The J Dubs will probably ignore the one in England, this veteran is the last remaining “female”, sorry.
I attached every single article, pamphlet, misconstrued bible verse to the email: http://ed5015.tripod.com/Jw1914GenerationQuotes46.htm
I lived in sheer terror growing up in this environment, I have to rub his nose in it because Armageddon is supposed to take place “before” the “last person to see and take part in activities of 1914″ pass away, surely the world will come to an end.
I was forced to store water and food for years, we canned so many fruits and meats. Once the predicted day came and went, Autumn 1976, I pilfered and ate most of the canned peaches, plums and pears in a cold dank corner behind the furnace in our dark dripping basement. I was in Heaven.
Later, the church was “reorganized” and those who believed and left where proven to be heretics and that the 1976 predictions was to purge the church of all non believers. My dad fell for it. I didn’t and I was only 11 years old. Too wise for my age on the ways of the world.
Armageddon is supposed to take place “before” the “last person to see and take part in activities of 1914″ pass away
I wish that God and Satan would get on with it; I’m getting antsy.
My hometown re-erected its WWI monument (lost in the woods for 80+ years) and rededicated it this last Memorial Day. Huge turnout. People do still care.
Slowly but surely, WW1 is moving into history – unless something rather unexpected happens, I’ll be alive at a time where no one who experienced it firsthand still lives. Sure, it’ll be remembered, but at some point, it’ll join the napoleonic wars or the US war of independence as old (though well-documented) history. I can imagine that happening, really – it’s not like the image of a German soldier from WW1 rouses any strong feelings in anyone I know anymore.
What I’m slowly getting to is that if I live to a respectable age, I will at some point be further away from the end of WW2 than we currently are from the end of WW1, but I have a much harder time imagining it slipping quietly into history in the same way … and that’s kind of interesting. (I’d say it’s because it has moved from a historic event into an almost mythical setting for contemporary culture, much the same way as the generic “middle ages” or “far future”.)
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