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Thu., March 24, 2011

Last of an era fades away

On April 19, 1951, Gen. Douglas MacArthur addressed a joint session of Congress, and his concluding remarks included, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

This last week, we saw the passing of Frank Buckles of Charles Town, W.Va., the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I. Mr. Buckles was 110 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery near his hero, Gen. “Blackjack” Pershing.

I recall as a teenager watching World War I veterans march in Veterans Day parades on Main Street in Walla Walla. That was in the 1960s, and it was living history marching by into the distance.

My grandfather Jim Perkins was the first to enlist from Stevens County in 1917 to go fight the Kaiser. So glad that my grandfather returned from those bloody trenches in France. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to write this letter. My dad still has his father’s World War I helmet and gas mask and so glad that Grandpa brought them home.

There is something very important about World War I to myself and my family and many families in the future. We will always be thankful for their courage and bravery – so many years ago.

James Gordon Perkins


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