Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Being 110 Isn't Much Different From Being 109

What a shame that Florence Green never made it to age 111.  She came pretty close, though.

What was Florence Green's claim to fame, besides living to almost 111?  Well, she was the last living veteran of World War I.

The last combat veteran died in May.

Florence Green joined the Women's Royal Air Force in September 1918 at the age of 17.  Women were put into support roles (such as mechanics) to free men up to "go to war".  Green served as a steward in the officer's mess. After the war, she married and had three children.  It is unknown if any of them had to go to war.

When the last participant in a war dies, all of us lose something valuable - memories, and a physical link to the past.  I was alive when the last (undisputed) veteran of the Civil War died, when the last veteran of the Spanish-American War died, and even when the last survivor of the Titanic died in 2009.  If I live long enough I will see the last veteran of World War II die, of the Holocaust die.  My son will (if he lives long enough) see the last veteran of the Vietnam War die.

But what was special about World War I was that it was supposed to be the "war to end war". Obviously, it was not.  Each of the survivors of that horrible war was a living witness to that horror.

We are poorer today for the passing of Florence Green, even if she did not spend a minute on the battlefield.

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