Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Madam Speaker, they say that World War I is the forgotten war, but it is not so in Kingwood, Texas at Creekwood Middle School.

The school did what is called a ``service learning project'' that is a hands-on, in-depth study of the survivors of World War I. Thanks to the work of the teachers of the school, the history teachers--but especially teacher Jan York--the kids studied World War I and the survivors who still are alive today.

World War I, 90 years ago last November, the war to end all wars, ended. It started in the early 20th century. The United States got involved in 1917, and the United States sent 4.7 million doughboys across the seas to fight in that great war.

When American troops landed in Europe, our allies were stunned at the enthusiasm and at the aggressiveness of our troops, and our enemies were shocked by their determination and relentless spirit.

After that war was over on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour in 1918, when all hostilities ceased, 114,000 doughboys, as they were called, did not come home. Many are still buried in Europe in graves only known to God.

After those troops did get home, thousands of others died from the Spanish flu that they contracted in Europe during that war. There was just one doughboy left. His name is Frank Buckles. He is the lone survivor, the last doughboy.

Madam Speaker, this is a photograph of Frank Buckles that was taken not long ago by photographer David DeJonge from Michigan. David has made it his ambition and life's work to take photographs of the survivors of World War I and of events that occurred in World War I.

Frank Buckles, he was an interesting individual. When the war started, he was just 16, so he tried to join the United States Army, but he was too little. He didn't weigh enough and he was not 18. So he lied about his age. He finally got a recruiter to take him, and he went to Europe as a 16-year-old and fought in the great World War I. He drove an ambulance and rescued other doughboys who had been wounded in World War I.

After the war was over with, he came back to the United States and started a farm in West Virginia, and when World War II started, he found himself in the Philippines. He was captured by the Japanese, and during World War II, he was held as a prisoner of war for 3 years until that war was over with. Frank Buckles in this photograph is now 108 years old, the lone survivor.

Last Friday, I had the honor to be present with those 1,000 school kids at Creekwood Middle School who are studying in-depth World War I and their survivors, like Frank Buckles, and what happened. Not only did they have an exhibit and photographs, but they got Frank Buckles on the telephone, and they sang to him ``happy birthday'' for his 108th birthday.

But that's not all, Madam Speaker. The choir sang the song that the World War I doughboys went off to war with the song ``Over There, Over There.'' They will not be back until it's over over there. But it was more than just to honor Frank Buckles. It was to raise money for a memorial on the National Mall for the World War I veterans. Let me explain.

We had four great wars in the last century, and we have built monuments for three of those--Vietnam, Korea and World War II--but if you look on the mall, there is no national m