Washington (CNN) – The last U.S. World War I veteran to die will receive an honors burial at Arlington National Ceremony next week, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, announced Friday.
"Allowing our country to pay its respects to Mr. Buckles and all of our courageous World War I veterans is necessary and important. It's a fitting way to say goodbye to our last Doughboy – a man whose life spanned more than 100 years and who was our last living American connection to the Great War," Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller had been seeking permission to hold a public ceremony in the U.S. Capitol honoring Buckles, who died at the age of 110 on February 27, but House and Senate leadership turned down his request.
In a statement released last week, Rockefeller expressed disappointment that legislation to allow Buckles to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda had been blocked by House Speaker John Boehner.
"This is a big disappointment and a surprising decision by the Speaker," Rockefeller said in the statement. "Surely, Speaker Boehner can agree that the Congress should pause for a moment to pay its respects to Mr. Buckles and all our World War I veterans."
But Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said that no legislation has been blocked, and said that Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid decided that Arlington National Cemetery is a more appropriate venue.
"Everyone honors Mr. Buckles' service to the United States, and the extraordinary sacrifices made by every member of our Armed Forces who served in World War One," Steel said. "That's why Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid will ask Secretary Gates to allow Mr. Buckles' family to use the amphitheater at Arlington cemetery for his memorial service – surrounded by honored veterans of every American war."
Buckles dedicated that last years of his life to advocating for the creation of a national World War I memorial on the National Mall. He made several trips to Washington to work with members of his congressional delegation to persuade lawmakers to grant federal status to an existing World War I monument that currently only honors residents of the District of Columbia.
Both Sen. Rockefeller and Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito - who represents Buckles' West Virginia district - have been strong supporters of Buckles' advocacy of World War I veterans, and have cosponsored legislation to rededicate the District of Columbia War Memorial as the District of Columbia and National World War I Memorial.
Buckles will lie in honor for public viewing at Arlington from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 15, and will receive full military honors during a private burial service. Flags will also be flown at half-staff on the day of his burial.