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Frank Buckles, last U.S. veteran of World War I, to be buried Tuesday at Arlington

March 10, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Frank Buckles in his Charles Town home on the occasion of his 109th birthday.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — America's last surviving World War I veteran will be buried at a private ceremony Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, a cemetery spokeswoman said Thursday.

Frank Woodruff Buckles' remains will lie in honor in Arlington's Memorial Amphitheater on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. President Obama has ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff that day.

Buckles, of Gap View Farm near Charles Town, died Feb. 27. He was 110.

Area residents will be able to pay their respects to Buckles at a memorial service Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Zion Episcopal Church at 300 E. Congress St. Buckles was a longtime member of the church. The service was requested by his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan.

Shortly after Buckles died, U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., sponsored resolutions that would have allowed his body to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Rockefeller said not only would it honor Buckles, but also the 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I.

The issue has been batted back and forth in Congress ever since, with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leading the effort to block the West Virginians' resolution. He was joined later in his opposition by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Although it appeared as if the question of where Buckles would be honored was settled with the Arlington decision, Rockefeller aide Abigail McDonough said late Thursday afternoon that it "was still being discussed."

Rockefeller's resolution gained support from such  notables as U.S. Sens. John McCain and Orrin Hatch and even from Jonathan Sandys, a great-grandson of Winston Churchill, who joined in the fray Thursday.

Wednesday's service at Zion Episcopal will be led by the Rev. Michie Klusmeyer, Episcopal Bishop of West Virginia. The Rev. Melanie McCarley, pastor at Zion, will give the homily.

The service will be based on the "Book of Common Prayer." Music will be provided by the group of acoustical musicians who play Thursday nights at O'Hurley's General Store in Shepherdstown, Buckles' favorite local musicians, according to a news release from Zion church.

Songs will include Irving Berlin's "Over There," along with the hymns, "For All the Saints," and "God of Our Fathers."

Speakers will be Ken Buckles and Martha McIntosh.

A reception will follow the service at the Charles Town Baptist Church at 211 E. Congress St.

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