President, Vice President Did The Right Thing
Before closing out this week, we pause to note that on Tuesday, Americans as a nation paid tribute to the late Frank W. Buckles as he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
Just as he had hoped, Buckles was not honored merely as an individual. He was the last remaining U.S. military veteran of World War I. To many, recognizing him was way to pay homage to all of the more than 4.7 million of his comrades in arms who died before he did.
Many people urge that Buckles, who lived on a farm in West Virginia for the last half of his life, lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in recognition of his the historic place in history. That is a high honor. According to published reports, the last person accorded it was former President Gerald Ford.
But leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives did not agree. It was their decision that honors for Buckles should be conferred at Arlington.
We think they were wrong about that. Recognizing those who served in "the Great War" by allowing Buckles to lie in state in the Rotunda would have been the right thing to do.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden recognized the significance of Buckles' passing, however. The two made an unscheduled, spur-of-the-moment trip to Arlington on Tuesday to honor Buckles and console his daughter, Susannah Flanagan.
In paying respects to Buckles, the president and vice president represented all Americans in saying thank you one last time to a whole generation of World War I service men and women.
We are thankful they recognized what an important and necessary gesture that was.