On this past Saturday, Florence Green, the last know surviving veteran of World War I, passed away quietly, she was 110 years old and just shy of her 111th birthday. She died quietly at Briar House Care Home in King's Lynn, England, where she resided, an almost forgotten veteran of The Great War. You see, she was not even recognized as a veteran until 2010 when a war researcher discovered her military records. She was a veteran but not a warrior, not a nurse taking care of the wounded near the battlefields, in fact she never even saw the front lines. She was a waitress in the Royal Air Force and served in the officers' mess at RAF Marham in eastern England. She only served a shot time during the war from September 1918 through the war's end for England in November 1918. Yet, she was indeed a veteran of that terrible war, one who served on the home front; in fact - she was the LAST SURVIVING VETERAN OF WORLD WAR I.
Take a moment and think of that. You young folks may not know one heck of a lot about WWI. Tonight, when i see my daughter, who majored in History as an undergrad, I will ask her what she knows about WWI,. She is still in her twenties and my guess is, even though she majored European History, that she will have learned little about it in college and less when she went for her Master's Degree, in Teaching but also geared toward History. I will be surprised if she can name 6 of the major combatant countries or where and with what event the war started. It would be a pleasant surprise to find out she knows that stuff and that it is still being taught. It would be a shame to find out otherwise because WW had a major lasting effect on the world and the way we live, the way we deal with other nations, the way warfare is conducted and the way we try to maintain the peace. It was a war, in which hostilities ended on its western front with an armistice at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Some fighting continued on its eastern front but the majority of the fighting was over. That war and the armistice gave us the holiday we still celebrate on that day, the one formerly called Armistice Day. Do you know what it is called today. have you ever given it a thought? This lady, this mere waitress, who never saw one bit of that horrendous fighting was nonetheless that war's last surviving veteran. She is with us no longer and I ask that you take another moment to think of her and of all the others who served in that war and to think of them with honor for their service. On November 11th, of each year for the rest of your life, on Veterans Day, maybe precisely at the 11th hour if you can, I ask that you remember all of our veterans and those of our allies who have striven to protect our nation, her citizens, our freedoms and our Constitution. They are the most important people in the world, people like them should not be forgotten and that includes Florence Green, the last of her kind.
For more info on Florence green, see: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/02/07/last-known-wwi-veteran-dies-at-110/?test=latestnews and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46297110/ns/world_news-europe/t/time-my-life-last-known-wwi-veteran-dies.
If you are interested, Charles Choule, the last combat veteran of WWI died in May 2011. See: http://ballseyesboomers.blogspot.com/2011/05/last-of-last-claude-choules-has-set.html. He servedEngland aboard a battleship after joining the British Navy at the age of 15 (yep, you guessed it, he lied about his age). In addition, the last surviving United States military veteran of WWI, Frank Buckles, died in March 2011, see: http://ballseyesboomers.blogspot.com/2011/03/last-lonely-eagle.html. All three died within less than one year of each other and with the passing of Florence Green ends not only an era but ends a whole class of people never again to grace this fair earth. Take a moment, think of them with honor, thank them, do not forget them.
On a personal note, I have to add that the death of Florence Green coincides with something I experienced just yesterday. I passed by the entrance to Central Park, just off Columbus Circle in NYC yesterday. When I did so, I took a look at a memorial/monument that I have probably passed hundreds of times in my life without giving it much notice. On it was chiseled the words: Remember The Maine. I took a few more moments to admire it, front sides and back, all adorned with statues. It was then, on the east side of the monument that I noticed the names of they who were lost aboard that ship, the loss of which triggered the Spanish American War. I took a moment to think of them with honor. Today, I will do likewise for Florence Green who passed away peacefully at 110 and, as I have said over and over again, was the last surviving veteran of WWI, the end of an era, and the last of her kind.
All the best,