Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Mr. Speaker, in 1918, the war to end all wars was over. It was called World War I. It started in 1914, ended in 1918. And during that time, it was a stalemate until 1917 when the United States entered the war. The United States went overseas to Europe. Those doughboys fought in a land they did not know and for a people they did not know. They broke the trench warfare stalemate, and on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour of 1918, that Great War was over.

Fifteen million people in the world died because of World War I. And the casualties for the United States? Well, 4,734,991 Doughboys and Marines went over there to fight in that Great War; 116,561 were killed representing and defending our country. They fought in the woods, in the forests of Belleau Wood, the Argonne, and the fields of Flanders. Many of them are still buried in those forests in graves known only to God. When they came home, thousands more had contracted the Spanish flu, and they died here in the United States.

When the war was over, America moved on, and now 101 years later, we honor troops from that last century. We have on the Mall here not far from this Capitol the Vietnam Memorial where we honor the 55,000-plus that were killed; we honor the Korean veterans with the Korean Memorial that has those American soldiers going through a minefield in the snow; and we honor the Greatest Generation with the World War II Memorial.

But in the tall weeds of the Mall, there's a little-known memorial for the D.C. veterans that fought in World War I. It is decrepit, it is falling apart, and like I said, it is in the high weeds. It was built largely because the kids here in Washington, D.C., saved their nickels so that memorial could be built.

But Mr. Speaker, we do not have a memorial on the Mall for all of the Americans who fought in the great World War I. America just never got around to it. So I have introduced the Frank Buckles Lone Survivor Act to expand the D.C. memorial so that it honors all that fought in World War I.

Why Frank Buckles? Because you see, Mr. Speaker, Frank Buckles is the lone American survivor from World War I. He's 108 years old. In World War I, he lied to get into the Army: he was probably 16; he should have been 18. But he went off to war in Europe and drove an ambulance and rescued other doughboys that had been wounded in France. After the war was over, he came back to America. And during World War II, he was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war for 3 years. And now he lives in West Virginia.

Mr. Speaker, here is a photograph of Frank Buckles, 108 years old. It is taken in front of what is left of the D.C. memorial. And what I am asking Congress to do is authorize the expansion of the D.C. memorial to include all who fought in World War I.

You know, the men that fought there should be honored by America. Even though I have offered this bill into legislation, government bureaucrats are opposed to this memorial, saying we don't need any more memorials on the Mall. That dishonors America's war dead, Americans the bureaucrats never even knew.

But kids across the Nation are answering the call of Frank Buckles. And let me explain. What is occurring is, service-learning projects in schools throughout the country are teaching their kids hands-on about World War I and those that lived and fought and died in World War I. It started in Creekwood Middle School in my home district, and now it has spread toschools in Kentucky, Connecticut, Michigan and Ohio. And because of that, these kids are raising funds to build this World War I memorial for all that lived and died in this war.

Mr. Speaker,