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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Random: Last British WWI Veteran Dies 
25th-Jul-2009 07:33 am
Requiem
History passes before our eyes. I can remember as a kid, attending the Mount Morris Fourth of July parade, and seeing the old convertible go by with the ancient-looking remaining local World War I veterans in it, and I remember being impressed with their mere age. Later, I would come to know a bit more about that fearful struggle through reading history, and through the books and character of Hemingway, Tolkien, and Lewis. Now, the last British veteran of The Great War, that painful initiation into the horror of the 20th century, has died.

Harry Patch, last British WWI veteran, dies at 111
Jul 25, 8:04 AM (ET)

LONDON (AP) - Harry Patch, the last British military veteran of World War I, has died at 111, the nursing home where he lived said Saturday.

The Fletcher House care home in Wells, southwest England, said Patch died early Saturday.

Patch had been the last surviving soldier from the British Army to have served in the 1914-18 war. The only other surviving British veteran of the war, former airman Henry Allingham, died a week ago at age 113.

Patch was called up for service in the British army in 1917 when he was working as a teenage apprentice plumber.

A few weeks later, in one of the bloodiest battles of the Great War, at Passchendaele, near the Belgian town of Ypres, he was badly wounded and three of his best friends were killed by a shell explosion.

Patch's death Saturday severs Britain's living links with "the war to end all wars," which killed about 20 million people.

In recent years he and his dwindling band of fellow survivors became poignant symbols of the conflict.

Last year he, Allingham and Bill Stone - the last British naval veteran of the war - attended remembrance ceremonies at the Cenotaph in London to mark the 90th anniversary of the war's end at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The three frail men in wheelchairs laid wreaths of red poppies at the base of the stone memorial.

Stone died in January.

At a remembrance ceremony in 2007, Patch said he felt "humbled that I should be representing an entire generation."

"Today is not for me. It is for the countless millions who did not come home with their lives intact. They are the heroes," he said. "It is also important we remember those who lost their lives on both sides."

Patch said he did not speak about the war for 80 years. But he came to believe the casualties were not justified.

"I met someone from the German side and we both shared the same opinion: we fought, we finished and we were friends," he said in 2007.

"It wasn't worth it."
Comments 
(Deleted comment)
28th-Jul-2009 02:37 am (UTC) - Re: And the War Came - First Things
Not really. The whole thing still looks to me like an astonishingly-embarrassing lapse in charity as lots of people took advantage of the situation to strike loud and self-righteous poses at one another's expense. That caused attacks of scruples among others not so politically dogmatic. The giving of the honourary degree seems to me to be ambiguous on the part of the Notre Dame administration, with regard to the bishops' instruction to not do such things, as Obama is not a Catholic. A quiet and thorough conversation by those leaders who possessed both intellectual and jurisdictional competence in the matter. Otherwise I saw just more of that kind of American partisanship creeping into Church affairs that eagerly forgets that the Church is not simply those of ones own political perspective. It really makes my dissertation seem that much more critically-timed to me.

To read the Public Square rant in First Things enthusing for the excommunication of the entire University just filled me with dismay at what looked like an immanent intellectual, spiritual, and literary decline at the magazine. If anything convinced me that well-intentioned and otherwise-educated people were turning raving mad over the whole thing, that was it.
27th-Jul-2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
Not quite true - according to Radio Scotland this morning, there is one more, but he lives in Australia now.
28th-Jul-2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Well, then maybe he doesn't count, since the Aussies are all just criminals, right? :-P
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