November 11th, 2008

A Day to Remember Our Veterans …

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, the Armistice ending the First World War was signed. To those who endured it, WWI was the “Great War”, “the War to End All Wars.” Tragically, an even greater conflict consumed the world just two decades later.

Today, 90 years after the end of WWI, Americans mark the anniversary of the WWI Armistace as “Veterans Day”. In Canada it is known as Remembrance Day. On this solemn occasion we honor all those who have served in the military in times of war and peace. While more WWII veterans pass away each year, there are still over 23 million veterans in the United States. Take time today to honor those soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have served their nation with pride. Today we remember that… “All gave some, and some gave all.”

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James Peake asks Americans to recognize the nation’s 23.4 million living veterans and the generations before them who fought to protect freedom and democracy: “While our foremost thoughts are with those in distant war zones today, Veterans Day is an opportunity for Americans to pay their respects to all who answered the nation’s call to military service.” Major Veterans Day observances are scheduled at 33 sites in 20 states.

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On Veterans Day we especially need to remember the seriously wounded combat veterans. These men and women summon great courage every day to overcome the lasting injuries they suffered in battle. CLICK HERE for inspirational profiles of wounded vets who, through courage and determination, have learned to adapt to their disabilities. Some of these soldiers have lost limbs, yet volunteered to return to combat duty. That is dedication beyond measure.

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November 11th, 2008

And Then There Was One …

4,734,991 Americans served in uniform during World War I. They fought on land and sea, in the first true global conflict. By the end of WWI over 15,000,000 soldiers and civilians worldwide had died in that conflict, including 120,000 Americans (as many from disease as from wounds). A thousand U.S. Soldiers died every DAY in the 3-week Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Frank Buckles — The Last Doughboy
Now, 90 years since the end of WWI, there is only one American WWI veteran who survives. 107-year-old Army veteran Frank Buckles is our last living link with the “Doughboys” who fought in Europe. His story is a profile in patriotism (and youthful exuberance). When only 16 years old, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Marines. They turned him down, so he joined the Army, lying about his age. He served in Britain and France as an ambulance driver, then helped escort German prisoners home to Germany after the surrender.

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Following WWI, Buckles wanted to see the world, so he took work with a steamship company. That job placed him in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded. He was captured and interred in a prison camp for three years before being liberated. Below is a CNN feature on Frank Buckles. As all other American WWI vets have passed away, Buckles was honored as the last U.S. Soldier to fight in the “Great War”. To learn more about Frank Buckles and his experiences in WWI, CLICK HERE for a USAToday Feature Story. (Highly recommended–worth reading.)

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CLICK HERE to view more video interviews with Frank Buckles and veterans of five other wars.

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