Measure honoring World War I veterans passes
By Ken Newton | St. Joseph News-Press | Published: December 13, 2012
Frank Buckles served as a teenage ambulance driver in World War I and lived long enough to see his name become a website.
But the Northwest Missouri native died before namesake legislation could be passed establishing a World War I memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Twenty-two months after his death, the U.S. House passed the Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act on Wednesday afternoon. Representatives approved the measure on a voice vote.
In addition to the memorial in the capital, the bill establishes a commission to prepare a centennial observance for the war and reaffirms Kansas City as the site of the national World War I museum.
Mr. Buckles, born near Bethany, Mo., in 1901, became known as “last of the doughboys,” the final survivor of American troops who served in World War I. At age 16, he lied about his age to enlist in the Army and served in the ambulance corps in France.
Long after his 100th birthday, he testified before Congress to increase recognition for those who fought in that war. Mr. Buckles died at his West Virginia home on Feb. 27, 2011, at age 110.
Congressman Sam Graves, whose district includes some of the area around Kansas City, said northern Missouri has important ties to the war. Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, the supreme commander of the American Expeditionary Force, was born in Laclede, Mo., about 90 miles east of St. Joseph.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to every soldier who served in the ‘war to end all wars,’” Mr. Graves said in a statement. “Our obligation to history is to remember those who paid the ultimate price for freedom and avoid the mistakes that made it necessary.”
Before becoming law, the bill must be passed in the U.S. Senate.
Ken Newton can be reached at email@example.com.