Yesterday, America paid tribute to a national treasure when the last veteran of World War I was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, in a grand procession with full military honors. U.S. Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles, who lived to the rightful old age of 110, was one of over 4.7 million Americans who served in “The Great War.” Buckles was an ambulance driver on the Western Front, but now he is part of history.
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.
“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. “It’s because of him, and those he served with, that we have the freedoms we have today.”
The time honored tradition of serving one’s country started with the first troops who fought in the revolutionary war, continued with brave men like Cpl. Buckles, and now rests in the hands of our troops who are serving over in Afghanistan and Iraq now.