Monday, July 30, 2007

I have a soft spot for First World War veterans. When I was a kid, they marched at the front of the parades in my hometown. When I was working at Minnesota Public Radio in Rochester, Minnesota 12 or 13 years ago, I interviewed several First World War vets for a Veterans Day story. As I remember, the youngest was 98. He had lived in the same Minneapolis apartment since the 1920s.

More than ten million soldiers fought in the Great War. According to the Internets, fewer than 30 are still alive. One of them is 109-year-old Harry Patch (pictured), the last surviving “Tommy” to have served on the Western Front. (Click here to read a great story about him in the Daily Mail.)

When Harry Patch was born in 1898, Victoria was Queen and McKinley was President. The Spanish-American War was underway. Veterans of the War of 1812 were still alive.

When the Titanic sank, Harry was a teenager. When the Second World War began, he was in his forties. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

History happens in the blink of an eye. Revolutionary War veterans lived to see the Civil War. Civil War veterans lived to see the Second World War.

What will the Second World War veterans live to see?

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