Pentagon Honors Last Surviving WWI Veteran

March 7th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Pentagon Honors Last Surviving WWI Veteran


March 6, 2008
CNN Newsroom, 2:00 PM
DON LEMON: All right. Well, they called it the war to end all wars. We called it World War I. Thousands of Americans fought and died; thousands more came home. Now, there's a single known survivor.
And CNN's Jamie McIntyre joins us live from the Pentagon to tell us about the events honoring Corporal Frank Buckles, 107 years old.
We saw him just a few minutes here, Jamie, in the CNN NEWSROOM. And what a beautiful portrait, too.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It was a very moving ceremony here at the Pentagon as the Pentagon took possession of, actually, a series of nine photographic portraits of the last of the last, the survivors of World War I taken by photographer David DeJonge over the last decade or so.
And on hand, as you said, was one of the last known survivors, perhaps the last. I believe there might be one other, as well, still holding on to life at this point in their life.
But Frank Buckles was on hand to -- for the unveiling of his portrait. He is 107 now. He lives in West Virginia. He lied about his age and joined the military at age 16 and went on a troop ship and served in World War I as an ambulance driver.
Interestingly enough, he was a civilian during World War II and, in the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was captured and held prisoner of war and ate all of his meals out of a single tin cup for months. And he still has that cup.
Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in accepting these photographs and honoring the memory of World War I veterans, said that that war is slipping into history and that a lot of Americans don't remember how important and momentous it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: The conflicts scarred the soul of Europe and consumed the flower of her youth.
Consider what the war meant for America. And for those who fought. Nearly five million young Americans donned a military uniform, and about half of them sailed across the Atlantic before the guns fell silent. During 18 months of fighting we suffered more deaths, over 116,000, than in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Corporal Frank Buckles did meet with President Bush today, as part of the ceremonies honoring this commemoration.
But, again, everyone, including the photographer who took these pictures, said it was about remembering all of the almost five million Americans who suited up for that war back at World War I. And -- and the photographer, David DeJonge, said that he believes the war is slipping out of the history books.
You know, Don, maybe people don't remember, but altogether in World War I, over nine million soldiers died, and over 21 million were wounded. And I just point that out as we're about to approach the point in Iraq where some 4,000 U.S. Americans -- Americans will have died in that war. So, just look at the scale of what happened in World War I.
LEMON: Yes. And we're coming upon an anniversary, too, in Iraq, but it's always important to remember the people who fought for us, no matter which war it is. And it was an honor just even watching that ceremony today.
Jamie McIntyre, senior Pentagon correspondent, thank you.

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