Skip to comments.Last Doughboy’s Burial Marks End of Era
Posted on 03/15/2011 3:51:13 PM PDT by AnyStreetFL
ARLINGTON, Va., March 15, 2011 America recognized the end of an era today as it bade a solemn farewell to Army Cpl. Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery here with full military honors.
A soldier with the Armys 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, keeps a constant vigil over the casket of Army Cpl. Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last U.S. World War I veteran, as he laid in repose before his burial today at Arlington National Cemetery. A gold-leafed Winged Victory figure presented to President Warren G. Harding when the unknown soldier of World War I was buried at Arlington on Nov. 11, 1921 watches over Buckles casket. DoD photo by Donna Miles
President Barack Obama paid tribute to Buckles this afternoon as he lay in repose in the chapel beneath Arlingtons Memorial Amphitheater stage. Buckles died Feb. 27 at age 110.
Obama was the last of a long line of mourners who began filing past his flag-draped casket early this morning to pay their last respects to Buckles, and a whole generation of combat veterans he came to represent.
The visitors paused in quiet reflection within the stark grandeur of the white-marble chapel. Its most striking adornment is a gold-leaf Winged Victory figure the Chinese government presented to President Warren G. Harding when the unknown soldier of World War I was buried at Arlington on Nov. 11, 1921. Today that figure, along with a single soldier from the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, kept a constant vigil over the last doughboy to serve in World War I.
As they streamed from the chapel, the mourners a mix of families, school groups, veterans, even a Canadian air cadet group said they were honored to be able to say a final goodbye to a generation of American heroes.
I felt like it was my duty as an American to come here and give him my respects, said Ray King, who took time during a family trip here from Houston to pay homage to Buckles. Its because of him, and those he served with, that we have the freedoms we have today.
Kings wife, Marilyn, said she felt privileged to be able to personally honor Buckles and those who served alongside him in World War I. What we are doing here today is a statement, and to be able to be part of it is just awesome, she said. We will carry this home in our hearts, and it is going to change us. I dont think we will go back to Texas the same way.
At 4 p.m. this afternoon, members of The Old Guard transferred Buckles casket to a horse-drawn caisson and made the slow, solemn trek to his final resting place.
The soldiers, too, recognized the significance of Buckles passing.
What we are seeing here is history, said Army Spc. Athiambo Onyango, who supported todays funeral activities. To me, this feels like the passing of an era.
Although hes participated in more funerals than he can count Arlington typically conducts more than two dozen every weekday -- Onyango said he felt particularly honored to be a part of Buckles. I think this is probably one of the most important ceremonies Ive been in, he said, holding it right up with Obamas inauguration as an experience hell never forget.
Army Sgt. 1st Class William Cramer, another Old Guard soldier, said he, too, felt honored to render honors to Buckles and the whole lineage of World War I doughboys he came to symbolize.
But this is not just about Mr. Buckles, Cramer said. Its also about what he represents This is the end of that lineage for that generation, a recognition of everyone who stepped forward and volunteered and a way to thank them for their sacrifices.
After brief remarks at Buckles gravesite, an Old Guard firing party fired three rifle volleys and a U.S. Army Band bugler sent the wail of Taps across the burial grounds. Buckles was laid to rest in Arlingtons Section 34, slightly down the hill and within view of Army Gen. John Black Jack Pershings gravesite, and site of Arlingtons World War I National Memorial that bears Pershings words.
You are remembered, it says, recognizing 116,516 Americans killed in World War I. Their devotion, their valor and their sacrifice will live forever in the hearts of their grateful countrymen.
Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I -- the War to End all Wars -- that 16-year-old Buckles quit school with dreams of becoming a part of. After lying about his age to one recruiter after another, he finally hoodwinked one into enlisting him into the Army in August 1917.
The United States had entered World War I just four months earlier, and Buckles was among fewer than 422,000 soldiers at the time. But within a year, he watched the Army swell to 2.4 million, most of it serving in the American Expeditionary Force.
Buckles deployed to the Western Front, driving an ambulance in France and Germany and earning the rank of corporal before his discharge in 1920.
As he lived out his later years in West Virginia, Buckles worked tirelessly to ensure the sacrifices made during World War I never be forgotten. One of his pet projects was a campaign to refurbish a little-known memorial to World War I veterans from the District of Columbia and rededicate it as a national memorial.
In 2008, on the death of 108-year-old Harry Richard Landis, Buckles became the sole living link to more than 4.7 million Americans who served in that war.
Its a role he embraced, visiting the Pentagon at age 107 for the unveiling of a World War I veterans exhibit. Whoever views this display will, I am sure, feel a connection to Mr. Buckles and his comrades-in-arms, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during that presentation. We will always be grateful for what they did for their country 90 years ago.
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And we’re loosing WWII vets at an alarming rate.
My Grandfather on my father’s side fought at the Argonne in WWI. When my Dad died, we had him buried within site of the Argonne Cross [memorial to those who fought at the Argonne] in the back of Arlington ...
“Last Doughboys Burial Marks End of Era”
Yes it is.
When I was a kid, my great-uncle showed up at family events. He was a World War I vet and he told us kids stories about war in the trenches. He’d show us his missing two front teeth that were knocked out when he was a professional football player back in the 1920s.
What a character.
Hand salute, Cpl. Buckles, last doughboy.
He is at parade rest, along side his brothers at last.
I think I read that Buckles worked as a telegrapher for a shipping company. He was working in Manila and when the Japanese invaded. He was interned and spent WW2 as a Prisoner there.
Thanks for the post. An era has pasted.
Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
May the soldier
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And the stars
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.
*Slow, silent hand salute given to the last of his kind*
SFC/US Army (Ret.)
“Resting” in Arlington, buried in TRUE Americans hearts. R.I.P. Mr. Buckles & thanks for a job well done.
It is just amazing how the world has changed since WWI.
And the Vietnam vets now look like the WWII vets of my youth.
I can’t believe the Westboro church buttwipes weren’t there.
Perhaps they understood that old, bold patriots would beat the poop out of them.
Tontine: A tontine is a scheme for raising capital which combines features of a group annuity and a lottery. Each member in the group puts an agreed upon sum into a pot, and upon the death of every other member, the last person remaining collects the pot.
In this case the ‘pot’ was a bottle of Brandy.
A very touching show!
Never truly understood WW1 until my family visited Flanders Fields near Ypres, Belgium. That war was unbelievably horrific. Today's consequence of a war started by Germany is an apathetic Europe rapidly falling victim to Islam's strategic "cultural jihad". Our insular Pax Americana policy is worthless against internal subterfuge.
Sgt. Buckles and millions of other patriots answered their call to serve. I weep as America cluelessly follows Obama into Europe's hell.
Yeah, I guess I’m one those suddenly old Vietnam vets. Got heart surgery coming up to prove it. Thank G-d I have a new wife to see me through.
My grandfather was WW1. My Dad was WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Had some tough acts to follow.
But the veterans who will live to die of old age always need to be there to salute the young war dead of our current conflicts. I was blessed to see them, the young soldiers in theater in 2003 (retired in January).
What’s left? Only, pray for this nation.
But he did well by paying his respects.
Me too. He could have done worse (probably did) but he did something.
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