Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Last One

     One of the sad and somewhat depressing things about being a student of history is when those that have lived it pass away.  World War II veterans are passing away.  Holocaust survivors are passing away.  The men and women that marched with Dr. King are getting close to passing away.  These are people that have lived through and experienced some of the most turbulent periods in American history.  Their stories need to be told and need to live on.  If we as Americans don't know where we have been, we won't know where we are going.

     Yesterday was the day that saw America's last World War I veteran buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  His name is Frank Buckles.  He was laid to rest near the site of where General John "Black Jack" Pershing is buried.  Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I.

     There are moments where I get very emotional when it comes to the military.  My paternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  My maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam.  There is a special, patriotic place in my heart for our nation's military.  This summer I went to Arlington National Cemetery with my parents and my wife.  My wife's uncle is buried at Arlington and she, nor her mother, had seen where he was buried.  Close by to where her uncle was buried was this of the greatest war heroes this country has seen...

     With every military funeral, it reminds me of my grandfather's funeral, of my brother and I folding the American flag that was draped over his coffin, folding it and giving it to our grandmother.  I am getting emotional just thinking about it.  Reading the description of the funeral procession for Corporal Buckles made me just as emotional as remembering my grandfather's funeral.  I cannot do what service men and women do day in and day out, but I am profoundly grateful for their sacrifice and service to this country.  This country was founded on freedom and that is what they protect.  Every time you see someone who is either active duty or retired, I urge you to thank them for serving.  They appreciate it.

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