Senate leaders are seeking permission to stage an elaborate tribute at Arlington National Cemetery on the day he is to be buried there.
Susannah Buckles Flanagan issued a lengthy explanation Saturday outlining why the request to have her father, who died a week ago Sunday at age 110, lie in honor in the Capitol was not unreasonable.
Her spokesman, David DeJonge, produced the statement after AOL News ran a story Friday noting that the family of the most famous soldier of the Great War, Sgt. Alvin York, declined the same honor and turned down burial at Arlington.
The ruckus over Buckles' final honors, which includes an order by President Obama for flags at the White House and other federal buildings to fly at half-staff on the day of his funeral, March 15, has put lawmakers in an uncomfortable position.
Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid turned down the lying in honor request. They opted instead for a special service in Arlington's amphitheater, which is usually reserved for memorial services on Easter, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
There will also be a ceremony to mark the passing of the generation on March 12 at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. The museum and its Liberty Memorial, dedicated in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge, had unsuccessfully vied to be designated the nation's official memorial to the war after Buckles testified in favor of a spot on the National Mall.
In her statement, Buckles Flanagan laid out her case why that is not enough:
"My father was a humble and soft-spoken gentleman who did not seek honor or recognition for himself, but in the last few years of his life others began to seek his support to the cause of honoring the military veterans of World War I, which he was glad to do. He was invited to testify before Congress on this subject in 2009, and he was honored to do so. When he became the last living American veteran of World War I, he recognized his role as representative of all the service members who served, fought, and died in the Great War and felt that it was his duty to do so, just as strongly as he felt the call to enlist and help fight that war, with all the other American doughboys.
In recent years, various Members of Congress have proposed to honor all the military veterans of World War I by honoring the last of those veterans to die. As fate would have it, that turned out to be my father. While Papa was still living, it was suggested that he lie in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol as a final, formal tribute to all the veterans of World War I. Papa consented to this because he understood that, as the last living World War I veteran, he was expected to represent all of the World War I veterans. He looked upon this as his final duty, which he took very seriously.
My father's friends, family and acquaintances will acknowledge his character and accomplishments, remember him and mourn his loss regardless of any formal honors bestowed upon him. The issue is how do we as Americans come together over this loss, by providing a befitting venue to do so? How do we demonstrate to our own people and people all over the world how the United States of America honors its citizens of distinction? We need a time for reflection, and the recognition of the end of an era and the passing of a generation, especially for those men and women who made the Supreme Sacrifice for their country, and my father serves as a symbol for all those who served in World War I.Sponsored Links
The Unknown Soldier from World War I and others have been recognized by lying in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol. If the last American soldier surviving is not suitable to serve as a symbol around which we can rally to honor those who served their country in the Great War, then who can serve that purpose? There is no one left. If we lose the opportunity to bestow this highest of honors on the person who was the last surviving representative, there can be no making it up later.
There is no extraordinary precedent being made here. The next similar request will come for the last survivor of World War II in 25 or 30 years time, and it will be appropriate to honor that person, as well. It is absolutely appropriate to, and there is widespread public support for, allowing Frank Woodruff Buckles to lie in honor in the Rotunda. Let it be so.
We thank everyone for their prayers and support during this solemn time for our family and our country."
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