I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Last Surviving WWI Veteran Turns 110

Local paper says America’s last surviving World War I veteran, Frank Buckles, turns 110 today. Hope somebody is capturing his story.

That’s what I tweeted and put on Facebook yesterday. And then, being curious enough to Google his name, I found out that someone did capture his story. This comes from a West Virginia television website:
A kickstarter.com campaign launched Jan. 31 with hopes of raising $150,000 for a feature-length documentary about Buckles’ life. The film, “Pershing’s Last Patriot,” is the culmination of four years of footage and interviews with the former soldier collected by [David] DeJonge [the family spokesperson and Buckles’ biographer], a portrait photographer from Grand Rapids, Mich., who began researching war veterans in 1996.
The same website says Buckles served in England and France during WWI, serving as both an ambulance driver and a prisoner-of-war escort. And amazingly, he was also a POW in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. The website goes on to say:
4.7 million American’s served in WW1 and Frank is the last voice of a generation that has slipped through our fingers without documentation and without a national memorial. Frank is the last breath and the last soul to have witnessed the Western Front of World War One.
Check out the footage of Buckles from the website:

NBC Nightly News did a story about him a while back and it captured how he felt after returning home from WWI to find that nobody even acknowledged he had been in a war:

I’m thankful that someone like David DeJonge has spent as much time as he has to listen to and record Buckles’ story. But Buckles isn’t the only elderly person with a story and DeJonge isn’t the only one with a camcorder. Most of us now have the technology to conduct video interviews with our parents and grandparents. Why not set aside some time to do so?

Two years ago, I began interviewing my mom with a digital audio recorder. We’ve done interviews about her childhood, her pets, her school years, her courtship with my dad, and we’re up to her work years. It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these interviews, but it’s time to get back to work. And now that I have a camcorder, I’m going to shoot video of the interviews as well as using my digital audio recorder.


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