Washington, Nov. 3 -
Mr. Speaker, as we approach Veterans Day, the day we honor those who served and came back home, I want to talk about a very special veteran.
Frank Buckles, Jr., when he was 16 years of age--some say 15--during the beginning of the great World War I, wanted to join the military and go overseas. Remember they sang that song, those doughboys, when they went overseas, George Cohan's song ìOver There.î And they wouldn't come back until it was over ìover there.î
The war started. He tried to join the Marines; they wouldn't take him because he was not 18. He tried different recruiters. He finally found an Army recruiter. He says he just told the recruiter a whopper--that he was 21. The recruiter took him, swore him in; and the fastest way he could get to Europe and get into action was to drive an ambulance. This is a photograph of Frank Buckles, Jr., when he served in the great World War I.
After that war was over with, he came back home, although 116,000 Americans did not come back home. Four million of them served in World War I. Frank Buckles, Jr., joined up as a seaman on a merchant ship. He was in the Philippines when World War II started, and he was captured by the Japanese and held in a prisoner of war camp for 3 1/2 years. He was rescued, came back home to America, went to his farm in West Virginia, and he worked on the farm until he was 109 years old.
Frank Buckles, Jr., died this year at the age of 110. He was the last surviving doughboy from America that served in the great World War I. This is a photograph taken shortly before his death this year.
Frank Buckles, Jr., the loan survivor of World War I, a veteran of that great war, came back home. And his wish before he died, Mr. Speaker, was that we would have a permanent memorial for all who served in World War I on the Mall. You see, we have a memorial for Vietnam veterans, we have a memorial for the Korean veterans, the World War II veterans. There is a small memorial for the D.C. troops that served in World War I, but there's no memorial on the Mall for all of the doughboys like Frank Buckles, Jr., that served. And they have all died, Mr. Speaker. And it's our job, it's important for us to have that memorial for them, to allow it to be constructed.
There is one memorial in Kansas City for the World War I doughboys, but we need one here also on the Mall. And it's important that we honor these great Americans because they are the veterans that we honor, that we appreciate, and that we should not forget, although all of them, including the loan survivor, Frank Buckles, Jr., has died. So I hope this House will join me and the gentleman from Missouri, Emanuel Cleaver, in passing legislation to authorize this memorial for those World War I doughboys.
Veterans Day is approaching. We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the great World War I. We should remember them, and we can do this by erecting and allowing a memorial to be constructed on the Mall. The veterans are the greatest that we have. We should remember every one of them, those that served and came home, those that served and did not come home, and those that are serving and representing us today.
And that's just the way it is.