Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The last doughboy

I have always been very sensitive to the ebb and flow of history, to the connection we have with the past, and which one generation has with those that preceded it. Thus it is that I have been following, with great interest, the story of America's last surviving World War I veteran -- Frank Buckles, age 107, who lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, and who is apparently quite spry and alert for a man of such advanced age. But spry and durable though he might be, he, too, is mortal, and his inevitable appointment with the Reaper is obviously near at hand. Soon he, like the nearly five million veterans who preceded him, will be gone, and our already attenuated sense of connection with the Great War will be preserved only through books, film documentaries, museums, and the like, there no longer being any living memories of the conflict.

Today I found this article about him in Jewish World Review. It was written by columnist George F. Will, who I believe would be a good read -- and a thought-provoking one as well -- even if he were to write something about, say, the long roll-call of Smiths who appear in the Manhattan telephone directory.

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