Not mine: theirs. On this Armistice Day, 91 years after the cession of hostilities in WWI, there are just three confirmed veterans of that war who remain alive. Last year there were 10 confirmed WWI veterans still with us, down from 23 in 2007 and 53 in 2006.
108 year old Frank W. Buckles is the last remaining American doughoy. At 109, Jack Babcock, a dual Canadian/American national, is the last Canadian veteran. The last UK seaman is 108 year old Claude S. Choules, now living in Australia. That is all.
I am struck by what these oldest of the old have said about war as their numbers have dwindled. Claude Choules does not participate in remembrance day commemorations, after a 41 year military career that spanned both World Wars, because according to family members "he didn't think we should glorify war." Britian's Harry Patch died earlier this year, respectfully declining a state funeral and having said that "the only lessons to be drawn from the 'organized murder' of war were those of peace, compromise, and reconciliation." There is more in their words of Wilfred Owen than In Flanders Fields.
We marvel at these very few men from that time beyond all other living memories, but what they remember is more important than the novelty of their extreme longevity. The notes of their last post are sounding. What will we hear in their echoes?