Ed Driscoll

Happy Veterans' Day!

Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day, but many are observing today: Mary Katharine Ham salutes the Marines, who celebrate their 231st birthday today. And over at Hot Air, Michelle Malkin salutes the Doolittle Raiders of World War II (whom we mentioned briefly in a different context last year).

Meanwhile, the Washington Times looks at the surviving warriors of an even earlier war:

Scrawny but determined to fight in World War I, Howard Ramsey scarfed down banana after banana to bulk up enough to enlist. Today, he is still feisty at 108.

At 16, Frank Buckles lied about his age so he could go to war against the Germans in France. Now 105, he still runs his West Virginia cattle farm.

The son of former slaves, Moses Hardy and his segregated unit battled the enemy in horrific trench combat. Now 112 or 113, he says the only doctor he needs is Dr Pepper.

These remarkable “doughboys” — and about two handfuls more — are members of an increasingly fragile fraternity, relics of a world-changing conflagration little remembered today.

Once they stood 4.7 million strong: American farm boys, factory hands and tradesmen itching for adventure, all called by their country to fight “the war to end all wars.”

Now, when the 88th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I arrives tomorrow, there won’t be enough surviving U.S. veterans of that defining conflict to fill a platoon.

When 2006 began, an unofficial roster of known remaining American WWI veterans listed only about two dozen names. Eleven months later, those ranks have dwindled to 12, Scripps Howard News Service has confirmed. Perhaps a dozen more, who joined the armed forces after Armistice Day and served in the immediate aftermath of the war, are still alive.

I’m thrilled that a few of the old boys are still alive. At the start of the week, James Lileks mentioned a Harold Lloyd film from the late 1920s that had Lloyd interacting with a guy who was a Civil War vet still alive in the 1920s–and apparently the actor who played him was just that in real life. So the idea that a few WWI vets are still alive in the first decade of the 21st century isn’t all that surprising, in one sense.

Update: Turner Classic Movies remains the crown jewel in the media empire that Ted Turner started and one of the most watchable channels on cable. Not surprisingly, they’ll have a variety of great movies tomorrow honoring World I, War II, and–because it’s Hollywood, afterall–honoring the troops who served in Vietnam, if not the cause itself.