Frank Buckles, the very last American soldier to serve in the Great War - the War to End All Wars - that is, World War I, passed away Sunday, Feb. 27, at the venerable age of 110.
Now John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has denied requests by Republicans and Democrats alike that Mr. Buckles, representing an entire past generation, be given the signal honor of lying in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
I know there's no explanation, because I called Mr. Boehner's office to ask why the request was turned down. The #$%#*& who took my call said he didn't know why.
This has me so infuriated I'm almost in tears.
Frank Buckles lived here in my county until his death. I was always inordinately proud that he was my neighbor, in a manner of speaking, in part because late in his life (which is really saying something) he took up the cause of getting a national memorial to his fellow soldiers, sailors, Marines and ordinary citizens who put aside their own lives to fight in the Great War.
He spoke before Congress about the need to recognize these gallant men and women - and help the country remember that generations before ours made sacrifices just as great as any made today.
Mr. Buckles was able to live the life that more than 116,000 fellow Americans had cut short; he came through the war unscathed, unlike more than 200,000 fellow Americans wounded in combat. He survived internment in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in World War II, came home and became a farmer in Jefferson County, WV, and continued to work his land past his 100th birthday.
Republican representative Shelley Moore Capito (WV-2) announced she would introduce a bill that Mr. Buckles lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.
So did our two senators, Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin. When Boehner decided to turn down the request, Sen. Rockefeller said, “This is a big disappointment and a surprising decision by the Speaker," and he's asked Boehner to reconsider.
I'm left wondering if Boehner turned it down because they're ... Democrats.
Time is short. If you can, please take a minute and contact Mr. Boehner's office and ask that he reconsider (202-225-6205 - CORRECTED). Also, call your own senators and representative (202-224-3121 is the Capitol Hill general switchboard) and ask that they request that Boehner change his decision.
Our brave men and women now in military service are watching.