PERSPECTIVE: Videos help preserve veterans’ stories

Another Veterans Day has passed as America stops to pay tribute to our military.

It is my honor to attend the numerous events in the district on this special day. I have noted over the years the attendance is aging and I encourage parents and grandparents to talk to their children and impress upon them the history and significance of this tribute.

When I was first elected to the Legislature in 1990, it was not unusual for several WWI veterans to be in attendance at Veterans Day events.

Each year there were less and less. Today there is only one American WWI veteran still alive and he is a Missouri native.

Frank Buckles was born in northern Missouri town of Bethany on Feb.1, 1901. When he was 16, he lied about his age, telling recruiters he was 18, and tried to enlist in the United States Army.

He was turned down several times before deciding to try an even bigger fib. He told the next recruiter he was 21 and was granted admittance on the spot.

Buckles was assigned to duty on the RMS Carpathia for transport to Europe. This was the ship which had gained fame a few years earlier for its role in helping rescue Titanic survivors. At that time there were sailors who had participated in the rescue efforts still serving on the ship.

In 1919, after his discharge following the armistice, he attended the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. At this event, he met Gen. John Pershing, another native Missourian. In recent years the Liberty Memorial has undergone extensive renovations and remains a popular tourist attraction.

During WWII, Buckles was working as a civilian in the Philippines and was captured by the Japanese. He was held in a prison camp for three and a half years before being rescued in 1945.

Buckles’ recollections have been recorded on video through a program similar to one recently revived here in Missouri. In an effort to keep these memories from being lost forever, the Legislature appropriated money to record, store, and make available these veterans’ videos.

Unfortunately, the program lacked appropriate oversight and the price per video became prohibitive. The project was discontinued until recently, when it was revised with volunteers and equipment loaned by the University of Missouri.

Videos are again being produced to preserve these priceless memories.

As usual, I can be reached at State Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 64759 or 573-751-2076, or mail to: carl_vogel@senate.mo.gov for your questions, comments, or advice.

State Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City, represents Missouri’s 6th District.

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