We’ve talked about this country’s short history. And about how long-living Americans from just a few generations span all the years of the Republic.
Something similar was on Dick Cheney’s mind a few years ago when he spoke on Veterans Day. His subject was the last surviving veteran of World War I.
This holiday for the nation used to be called Armistice Day, after the document signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918, which brought to an end the First World War. Well over four million Americans served in that conflict, and all of them are now gone except for one. He is Frank Buckles* of Charles Town, West Virginia, who 90 years ago today was on active duty in the United States Army. Our last Doughboy is nearly 108 years old, and on this Veterans Day we’re thinking of him with the greatest respect and pride.
Corporal Buckles is a living connection to a war fought long ago, to a time when America deployed a great Army to oppose the enemies of freedom. Only 23 years after the Armistice, our nation was called to another difficult global task in the biggest war we have ever had to fight. When that struggle was over, we had turned back dictatorship and militarism across the globe, and former adversaries became friends of the United States. The Second World War ended more than 60 years ago, yet many Americans still remember it well. And we’re pleased to be joined in the amphitheater today by veterans of World War II.
Also present are military veterans from the eras of the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. We welcome all of you, and we thank you for your service and for being here with us today.
— From Veterans Day remarks by Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2008
* Frank Buckles, our last Doughboy, died February 27, 2011.