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February 21, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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PAGE A4 Advocate Wednesday, February 22, 201.2 A year gone, Frank Buckles' work for a WWI Memorial goes on Josh Meltzer It's been nearly a year since the death of Frank" Woodruff Buckles. who balanced a quiet life on his 330-acre cattle farm in Charles Town with worldwide attention as the United States' fi- nal World War I veteran. The Missouri native had turned 110 just weeks before he quietly passed away Feb. 27, 2011, at his Gap View Farm. Just this month, the very last of those involved in WWI left us. The person believed to be the war's final surviving vet - Britain's Florence Green. who worked as a waitress in the of- ricers' mess hall as a member of the Royal Air Force in the final days of the conflict - died Feb. 4. just 15 days before she would have marked her 11 lth birthday. For Buckles, his in- credible long life and ro- bust health always took second place to an hon- or deserving of even more trib- ute: here in the United States, he was the last of his kind, this great nation's final doughboy, the last living soldier sent by the U.S. to help fight the War to End All Wars. I first learned of the man in 2004 as a new reporter to the area. Long a student of the Great War, I filed it away in my mental Rolodex that here in the Eastern Panhandle lived one of a select fraternity, a dwindling number. I recall hoping I'd have the chance to meet him, perhaps to talk to him awhile. When I learned he had been an ambulance driver during the war, I wondered if he'd ever read poet Robert W. Service's collection. "Rhymes of a Red Cross Man." From "Young Fellow My Lad": "' Where are you going, Young Fellow, My Lad, On this glittering morn of May? "I'm going to join the colours, Dad: They're looking for men, they say. '" "But you're only a boy, Young Fellow, My Lad; You aren't obliged to go." "I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad, And ever so strong, you know." Buckles-was just 16 when he enlisted. He apparently dis- liked news accounts report- ing that he'd lied to recruiters about his age. A Washington Post story published after his death used the word "bluffed" to describe his prevarication. I liked that. It was 2009 when I finally got my wish to meet the man. I'd been asked to go to Buck- les' house where students from Creekwood Middle School in Kingwood, Texas, had arrived to present him with a check for $13,553.83 to help remake  .......... Robert Snyder as a national memorial the di- lapidated D.C. War;Memori- al, a bandstand put up in 1931 by the District of Columbia to honor the 499 city residents who perished in World War I. On that March day, before Buckles was brought out to meet the young Texans, a handful of reporters were given a few min- utes to bend his ear. ! recall extending my hand and he took it. I recall the sound of his voice, a low rumble in a qui- et room peopled by a half dozen others straining to hear but also to be heard, to be seen, to be ac- knowledged by someone who we knew to be a living, breathing memento of history. A photograph from 1917 shows Buckles the doughboy, his jaw" set square against the Guns of August, so wanting to go to war, but it's the photograph from that March 8 edithon of The Joumal that serves as my recol- lection of the man, small and frail, a black beret atop his with- ered head, a scarf around his neck, his gnarled hand holding that of 13-year-old Seth Whitt. Buckles in 2008 had become the honorary chairman of the World War I Memorial Founda- tion, and it seemed to me then this effort to remake that old ne- glected bandstand into a national memorial honoring all the veter- ans of this little-understood war, the first wherein which the scale of the weaponry had outmatched the scale of the men waging it. couldn't have found a better foot soldier. The day before Veterans Day in 2010, Buckles took his cause before Congress, becoming the Oldest person ever to testify be- fore the body. "We still do not have a na- tional memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor the Americans who sacrificed with their lives during World War I," Buckles told lawmakers. "I call upon the American people and the world to help me in asking our elected officials to pass the law for a me- morial to World War I in our na- tion's capital. "These are difficult times, and we are not asking for anything elaborate. What is fitting and right is a memorial that can take its place among those commem- orating the other great conflicts of the past century." Buckles would have been . pleased with the Nov. 10, 2011, ceremony that gave the public its first official look at the seclud- ed bandstand's completed resto- ration. But more work remains, explains Edwin Fountain, one of the directors of the WWI. Memo- rial project. "Frank Buckles felt very See BUCKLES page A5 Spirit of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE XoXo Ministry, politics and networking Ministry that ignores politics does so at its peril. We are in an age where character assassina- tion replaces honest debate. In- stead of de- bating poli-  cy and look- ing to serve citizens of our country, there is a ter- rible void of ideas. The Virginia danger of Lynch Graf politics like this robs people of their future. Is there a connec- tion to our ministries? I believe there is. No matter how you serve, be it as chaplain, teacher, artist, writer educator, healer, faith leader or marriage coun- selor, your voice is both need- ed and expected: Character as- sassination does not just de- stroy political candidates and incumbents, it also obliterates the concept that we are a peo- ple who are concerned about the well being of each other. A clear example of this can be seen by the vicious attacks on President Obama. He has been compared to Hider, called an illegitimate president, a se- cret Muslim, a liar, an elitist, a dictator, socialist, an appeaser. The positive achievements of the Affordable Health Care Act get totally missed. How many West Virginia citizens know that they now have a guaran- tee that insurance companies can't dump them or their chil- dren because of existing ill- ness? In West Virginia, 17.900 uninsured young people can re- main on their parents health in- surance until the age of 26, a good step during a time of high unemployment. How many people know that 85 percent of insurance premiums must be turned back into health care ser- vices, not profits? Character assassination re- duced knowledge about the good things health care reform did accomplish. Using the term "Obamacare" is a way to under- mine and disparage that which provides 379,500 West Virgin- ians with preventive health ser- vices, and qualifies 21.200 small businesses with a premium tax credit to provide health care cov- erage for their employees. Why is it that science about climate change is still being de- nied? The fossil fuel industry suc- cessfully used the media to broadcast a steady stream of mis- information: "science is open to debate, science contradicts faith, God provided fossil fuels for hu- mans to use, and everything is in God's hands making humans ab- solved from responsibility." In this case, science was pitted against religion, which placed religious Americans in a fearful position. One of the most ardent mes- sengers for saving our planet was A1 Gore. And so, presenting A1 Gore as a babbling buffoon was a way to diminish the messenger and the message. Another example of blatant. dismissal and character assassi- nation has been directed at the members of the Occupy move- ment. Politicians, supported by the Wall Street barons, have la- beled those who stand for eco- nomic change as lazy drug deal- ing hippies, radicals, poor and envious, societal misfits, and un- cultured unbathed scum. Many Americans have accepted the language and allowed those who would stand up to oligarchs to be dismissed along with their at- tempt at reform. Economic re- form is essential if we are to re- main a nation of, for, and by the people. Lastly, in state after state, la- bor unions are under attack. It was the labor unions that pro- tected laborers and children from unsafe and unfair working condi- tions. It was the labor movement that created a middle class. What prompts politics to use character assassination? Mon- ey, power and silence. Minis- ters who don't speak to injustice are failing those they claim to serve. Who can stand silent when Americans are deprived of qual- ity health care? Who can stand silent when pollution causes un- told numbers of asthma cases and destroys the very air and wa- ter all life requires? What minis- ter does not find the time to de- mand health care as a right, speak up for economic justice or stand with labor unions in the face of suppression? Politics and ministry both claim service to people. Politics and ministry can help improve the quality of life. Networking with other ministers may achieve more effective service. Network- ing among ministers may help make up for unknown facts, or lay the groundwork to stop false attacks on brothers and sisters. It would seem to me that establish- ing a community of ministers searching for ways to utilize the gifts of each other can only im- prove the quality of the service they offer --Virginia Lynch Graf writes from Jefferson County Taxing time indeed It's getting to be tax season and since mine are sure to be a mess this year what with loving my full-time employer and hav- ing freelance jobs where nothing was taken out, not to mention oth- er quirks in my life, I decided to start collecting the paperwork my accountant will need. A big help to me last year was when the medical insurance peo- pie sent out a handy-dandy  paper printout listing my doc- tor visits for the year and what they paid and what I had to pony up. Nancy Luse Not receiving a similar list this year, I called the insurance people to see what was up, naturally landing in the outer ring of voice mail hell I punched in the series of required policy identification numbers and date of birth, happy when they said it would be-a two-minute wait time for the next representative. Sure enough, a cheerfifl woman came on the line in the promised time to tell me that they stopped mailing out the list to save paper and postage and I could instead find it online. "Umm" I replied. "Not to be mean, but the site is not all that us- er-friendly and I don't think I've ever successfully reached my in- formation. Plus, I've forgotten my password?' "Oh, I hear you. I don't even have Intemet at my house," she said sympathetically. "But how about we reset your password and get you stroll?" I bounded upstairs to my study, phone in hand, and got on the computer. Woosh, incoming email soon brought my new pass- word and I went to town with the jumble of upper- and lowercase letters and one numeral. The sec- ond page of the process popped up and wanted to know the town where I was born and the name of my first elementary school. Tap, tap, tap, I hit enter. Scream- ing red letters told me I was wrong. Are you kidding me? I cettainly know where I was born. I called back on the tech support number, entered my policy identification number and birth date. "Your call is very important to us,please stay on the line. Wait time for the next available representative is 11 min- utes." While I was on hold I fiddled around on the site and was able to See LUSE page A5 'Fat possum' provision unlikely for Tomblin At last count, more than six dozen proposed amendments to the West Virginia Constitution have been introduced Onderthe Dome at this leg- islative ses- sion includ- ing the usual suspects like higher home- stead exemp- tions on prop- erty taxes and a ban on Tom Miller same-sex marriages in this state. But the one commanding the most attention this year is the issue of whether this state needs an elected lieutenant governor who automatically moves up to the job of governor if the elect- ed chief executive dies, resigns or is otherwise unable to contin- ue in that job. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has submitted his recommendation to lawmakers and last week it emerged from the House Con- stitutional Revision Committee. But not before a "fat possum" he had inserted in the amendment was removed. It was the addi- tion of "four-year" to the para- graph in the Constitution relat- ed to eligibility that would have paved the way for Tomblin-to run for a third term in 2016. The current Constitution states that anyone who has served as governor during "all or any part of two consecutive terms" shall be ineligible. Tomblin's recom- mended amendment would have changed that to read "all or any part of two consecutive four- year terms." This would mean he could run and be elected to serve another four-year term beginning in 2017 if he wins this year's election. Since he ran for an unexpired term of slightly more than one year in 2010 and won, a success- ful campaign for his first four- year as governor in this year's November election would mean he would have to step aside in 2017. At that point he will have served "all or any part of two consecutive four-year terms." Unfortunately, a final legisl/- five decision on a possible con- stitutional change to benefit the current governor doesn't seem likely to come this year. It's not even certain the House of Delegates will have the neces- sary two-thirds majority of 67 votes needed to give its approv- al for placing this constitutional amendment issue on the Novem- ber statewide ballot. But if the proposal in its present form does clear the House, it still faces almost certain death in the Senate where both President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and Major- ity Leader John Unger have in- dicated they see no need for this amendment. Kessler's position is understandable. He is the current lieutenant governor by virtue of his position as Senate president. Even those in the Senate Who would if given a chance -- vote to put this on the ballot don't believe it would receive a simple majority vote, let alone the two-thirds super majority re- quired for all proposed constitu- tional amendments. But if the governor wins elec- tion to a full, four-year term in November, he'll have an oppor- tunity to pursue this constitution- al change during that term and perhaps get it on the ballot at the 2014 general election. Meanwhile, once again well- intentioned legislators are try- ing to increase the state's tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco for a dual purpose needed new revenues for the state's operating budget and better health for its citizens. But SB586 that could generate as much as $120 million a year in new tax collections was almost certainly dead on arrival in the legislative halls last week. This idea has been run up the flagpole before with no success. It would nearly triple the present See MILLER page A5 Established 1844 mt "No government ought to be without censors and where the press is free, no one ever will." -- Thomas Jefferson PUBLISHED EACH WEDNESDAY BY The Jefferson Publishing Co. Inc. 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