Last WWI vet likely not to have Capitol Rotunda honor
March 3rd, 2011
08:52 PM ET
12 years ago

Last WWI vet likely not to have Capitol Rotunda honor

Washington (CNN) – The last living U.S. World War I veteran, who passed away this week, will receive an honors burial at Arlington National Ceremony, but he likely will not be honored in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as many had hoped.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, had introduced a resolution in the Senate that would authorize the use of the Capitol to honor Frank Buckles.

Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who represents Buckles' West Virginia district, also introduced legislation last year to allow the nation's last "Doughboy" to lie in honor in the Rotunda upon his death.

But on Thursday, Rockefeller released a statement expressing disappointment that the legislation 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."

Steel added that they have not ruled out some sort of memorial at the Capitol.

Buckles, who marked his 110th birthday on February 1, died of natural causes at his home in Charles Town, West Virginia. Up until his death, Buckles dedicated his time to advocating for the creation of a national World War I memorial on the National Mall.

Both Rockefeller and Capito 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.

Filed under: Frank Buckles
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. david dejonge

    I am Franks spokesman and as such I can assure the world that Frank does not want to create controversy and he only wants to continue to be symbolic for the 4,734,991 Americans that served during WWI. It is tragic that it has come to this. The government was notified about this years ago and has done nothing to prepare. Sadly, there is no plan in place to honor Frank. And certainly to say that because he will be surrounded by the heroes at Arlington is a nice thing to say- but he will be there permanently. Let the American people honor Frank and show respect. This limits how many people can honor him and greatly restricts the ability for everyone to show honor-the highest honor. If the Capitol is good enough for the politicians isn't it good enough for the last symbol of WWI?

    March 3, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  2. Barbara

    I know there are rules, but shame on Boehner and Reid for not allowing this man this honor for his service. I find it in considerable distaste that both of these men, who have never served in the military, would deny this man who did, this one final tribute.

    March 3, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. OnceAMarine

    He should be in there. He is the last WW1 vet. Holy smoke DOD don't fubar this one. He is the last one, I don't care if all he was doing was handing out canteens full of water.

    March 3, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. Total Truth

    This is a major travesty!!!!

    March 3, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I'd think that this is something that everyone can agree on.

    March 3, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. Lee

    Not at all sure I like this. Sounds like a slight to me.

    March 3, 2011 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  7. Steve Jackson

    The government has always used the American service person on duty but after they get hurt killed or discharged the service person is forgotten and left out in the cold a sick animal will get better help and care

    March 3, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  8. video guy

    It does not surprise me that the speaker does not respect veterans.

    March 3, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  9. Jack

    There goes the GOP again, talking out of their necks about duty, service and being for the people, until it comes time to actually DO something, at which point, even with something so small as this, they screw it up.

    March 3, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  10. Aaron

    I guess that Mr. Buckles was not a millionaire. If that had been the case, Boehner would have personnally dragged his coffin to the rotunda. Boehner loves starting wars, but cares nothing for the Americans who fight them while he sits around helping millionaires get richer.

    March 3, 2011 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. Gaylon Barrow

    You might have know Reid would have been in on it. He and Boehner can take a flying leap into Hades. It is guaranteed that neither of the two served this country in any capacity if this is the way they serve. Bad luck to both of them.

    March 3, 2011 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  12. Diane Thorsen

    If the speaker had more knowledge about the history of WW1 soldiers treatment by our government [see Bonus Marchers] I think he would not hesitate to extend all honors possible to our final veteran!

    March 4, 2011 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  13. proud mother of soldier

    You mean Obama isn't jumping on this for some face time? Of course not, he has not served nor does he support the military.

    March 4, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  14. LeonardGump

    How did the Speaker of the HOUSE block a SENATOR's bill? I suspect there's a lot of Democrat Spinglish going on here and CNN didn't even know enough to ask the hard question.

    March 4, 2011 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  15. D Riggs

    Rockefeller....isn't he a skull and bones kind of guy???/see what he knows about you really trust any of those in washington...hell NO...they make small gestures as a carrot on a stick for us to think they are with us. They want all your money so they can live the good life .
    Mr Buckles we appreciate your service unlike rockefeller's! RIP

    March 4, 2011 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  16. Cindy Fluharty

    Can someone tell me why there is no National Monument in Washington, DC honoring the W W I verterans? Everyone else has one: W W II, Korea, Vietnam, etc, etc

    March 4, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  17. US Military Veteran

    Frank Buckles was a amazing man, most people never knew him or even knew of his story. He is part of History as were all the other troops in WW I . Everyone of of them should have had the opportunity to be buried at Arlington. The sad fact is that even as WW I Veterans they were not afforded the right. Hopefully Mr. Buckles has made a lasting impression on our Senate to Give frank and all the rest of the troops that we in this great War the respect they deserve. Every War & Conflict deserves a National Memorial to represent the sacrifices that they gave. Our Senate wastes money on their pet projects and ensuring they have what they want. They spend hours a day on endless resolutions to honor baseball players, businesses and frivolous other no important items. Time to give the People What they Need !! The govt. is for the people and about the people, lets get back to basics.

    The US is 220 years old and Frank had lived through 1/2 of that. Frank IS Part of the US History ! Give him the respect and the dignity he has earned many times over.

    To our senate get your heads out of the sand and run this country correctly that Frank gave so much of his life to.

    I have met frank and he was a inspiration to me as a veteran. My sincere condolences go to his family may they know that Frank made an impression on everyone that has ever got the chance to know him.

    March 4, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |