Honoring Army Cpl. Frank Buckles: Last WWI Veteran

The last of the WWI veterans, Army Cpl. Frank Buckles was buried today at Arlington National Cemetery.  Paul Dugan said in an article from the Washington Post, “In a late-day chill, after hundreds of strangers had paid their respects in public viewings since the weekend, soldiers carried the former doughboy’s flag-draped coffin partway up a knoll and set it on polished rails above his plot, a stone’s toss from the grave of his old supreme commander, Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing.

A visit from President Obama paying his respects and  flags at half mast marked the life of this soldier who died at the age of 110 years on February 27.

In an article, from ABC news by Arkette Saebz and Jake Tapper:  “Buckles will be buried with full military honors, which consist of a caisson, escort platoon, casket team, firing party and a lone bugler playing the military hymn “Taps.” Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the “Old Guard” — the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army — will conduct the military honors.”

Rest in peace Cpl. Frank Buckles, you served us well.

Navajo Code Talker Dies at Age 86

In beauty I walk

With beauty above me I walk

With beauty before me I walk

With beauty behind me I walk

Everything around me, in beauty I walk

In beauty I walk

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

It has become beauty again

—Navajo Prayer

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a poetry workshop on sacred Navajo ground in Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. We learned about the Dinẻ (the name Navajos call themselves) way of life.  John Fox was our poetry teacher and Lupita McClanahan was our Navajo guide.  We climbed and walked and wrote in the canyon. We primitive tent camped and ate our meals—including golden fry bread– cooked on a fire outdoors. There was no electricity. We slept under the stars. Their silent brilliance took my breath away. We listened as Lupita told us stories about “the People”.   I learned about the beauty ways of these Native Americans and came to appreciate their culture.

The Navajo language refers to everyday things by gender. A gentle spring rain is female, while a loud thunder storm is designated as male.  In 1942, this beautiful language was used to help save thousands of lives by becoming the only unbroken military code in US history. During WWII, the Japanese intelligence experts broke every US military code and were sabotaging communications by inserting fake messages and commands to ambush Allied troops. More and more complex US codes were developed and took hours of decryption for very simple messages. A faster, simpler way of communicating secret messages was needed.The answer was using the Navajo language. The orignal group of code talkers numbered 29 and memorized 200 different terms. Nothing was written down. By the end of the war, the secret terms grew to 600.

From the Official Code Talker website:

“In a simple, memorable way, the military terms tended to resemble the things with which they were associated. For example, the Navajo word for tortoise, “chay-da-gahi,” meant tank, and a dive-bomber, “gini,” was a “chicken hawk,” (a bird which dives on its prey). Sometimes the translation was more literal, as in “besh-lo” (iron fish) which meant submarine; other times it was metaphorical, as in “ne-he-mah” (our mother), which meant America.”

We as a nation have lost another WWII hero, Joe Antonio Silversmith, a Navajo code talker.  The official website of the Navajo Code Talkers says: “It is a great American story that is still largely unknown—the story of a group of young Navajo men who answered the call of duty, who performed a service no one else could, and in the process became great warriors and patriots. Their unbreakable code saved thousands of lives and helped end WWII.”

Thank you Joe Antonio Silversmith for your service.

110 Years Old:The Last Surviving U.S. Veteran of World War I Dies

My grandmother, Jenny Troha told me a story about how she was in love with a soldier and that they were going to get married when he got back from the war (WWI) . He never returned. Jenny ended up marrying my grandfather, Matt instead of her soldier.  I was never able to ask Jenny for more information about her soldier as she died unexpectedly a short time later.That was thirty two years ago. This storyabout the last surviving soldier of WWI made me think of Jenny and all those soldiers that have gone before us and given their lives for freedom’s sake.

The last US surviving veteran of WWI, Frank Buckles died on Sunday. Frank convinced an Army recurituer that he was 18 years of age in 1917, when in reality he was only 16 1/2 years old.  The article states:

When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last of his kind, he said simply, “I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me.” And he told The Associated Press he would have done it all over again, “without a doubt.”

Unknown Warrior

Walking into the depths of Westminster Abbey, my eyes are drawn heavenward.

The polished stone skeleton of pointed arches and round thick columns seem to

reach to the sky. This beautiful place is where kings, queens, poets, composers,

and statesmen are buried.

Next, my eyes are drawn to the floor of the nave–the tomb of the unknown

warrior. Red poppies surround the black marble engraved with these words:

Beneath this stone rests the body
of a British warrior
unknown by name or rank
brought from France to lie among
the most illustrious of the land
and buried here on Armistice Day
11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of
His Majesty King George V
his ministers of state
the chiefs of his forces
and a vast concourse of the nation
Thus are commemorated the many
multitudes who during the Great
War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that
Man can give life itself
For God
for King and country
for loved ones home and Empire
for the sacred cause of justice and
the freedom of the world
They buried him among the kings
because he
had done good toward God and
toward His house

Returning home, the customs officer in the USA that checked my passport

was a young man with the letters USMC tattooed on his arm. I thanked him

for his service. The startled look and shy smile of this unknown warrior was

as beautiful as any of the sights I saw when I was traveling.

unknown soldier

Our roles as mothers


I am forwarding this email I received from my oldest son, Erich. A friend of his sent it to him. I think this is an absolutely fabulous idea for mother’s day and it feels good to know that your book is making a difference.
Love, Gloria
The email reads:

Hey, just so you know… 
I always host a mother’s day brunch at my home that is rather fancy and I go all out trying to highlight my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sisters, godmother, aunts, etc.  
This year, as is every year, I had a theme.  This year, I made it a patriotic theme and did the dining room up with the china, crystal, and old war photos of the men and women in our mother’s lives that were involved in the military.  So, there were pictures of all the black and white WWI, Korean, WWII, Vietnam, and Gulf War pics of the men in our lives.  Our focus after all the typical girl talk was to talk about how war or the military affected our roles as mothers.  Wow!  Did we have some real bonding moments.  
To spark the conversation, I gave everyone a copy of the book you mom was published in and we read her short story as a prelude to our talk…it was so wonderful…