America’s Last Soldier Who Went “Over There”
In a timely Chicago Tribune op-ed, the last surviving American veteran of The First World War, Frank Buckles ( age 107) is the focus in an essay on the need for our students to learn about and honor the sacrifices made in our behalf by veterans in our nation’s wars.
“Now there is only one. When Harry Richard Lucas died recently, Frank Buckles was left as the only American soldier who can recount his personal experience in World War I. He is the last surviving American World War I veteran. The Great War, as it was once known, is receding into ancient history, an era as distant from us today as the Civil War or the American Revolution.
But every war lingers, long after the last soldier has died. Generations hence, the ghosts still speak to us, even if we no longer acknowledge the voices. Look no further than our current travails in the Middle East, in large measure a result of the political consequences of World War I, which created the political boundaries of those tribal regions. And in an echo of the current presidential debate, Americans in 1917 were passionately divided about being drawn into a European conflict we had little direct stake in, arguably less than we have in Iraq today.
Without our intervention, when our doughboys went marching off to Europe to fulfill President Wilson‘s promise to make the world safe for democracy, the European allies probably would have been defeated.”
Read the rest here.