Monday, February 28, 2011

In Memory of Frank Buckles

"The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said. "There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in."

Frank Buckles, the last man standing among U.S. troops of the Great War who were called "The Doughboys" "died peacefully in his home of natural causes" early Sunday morning.  He was 110.

The following is a poem of his collected sayings paralleled with quotes from the novel All Quiet on the Western Front in italics.


Longevity has never bothered me at all,
I have studied longevity for years.

The wisest were just the poor and simple people
I don’t know anyone my age.

We are none of us more than twenty years old.
But young? That is long ago. We are old folk.

My job driving the ambulance was not very severe,
you did what you were supposed to do. That was my main job.

Our thoughts are clay,
they are moulded with the changes of the days.

I didn’t lie; nobody calls me a liar,
I may have increased my age.

Let the months and years come,
they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more.

I was just 16 and didn’t look a day older
I’d left my birth certificate back home in the family Bible.

There is a distance, a veil between us.

I feel the whirl of the vortex sucking me slowly,
irresistibly, inescapably into itself.

His face had an expression of calm,
as though almost glad the end had come.

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