Frank Buckles, last U.S. vet of World War I, laid to rest at Arlington

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A lowly corporal of long ago was buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, ushered to his grave with all the Army’s Old Guard solemn pomp.

In a late-day chill, after hundreds of strangers had paid their respects in public viewings since the weekend, soldiers carried the former doughboy’s flag-draped coffin partway up a knoll and set it on polished rails above his plot, a stone’s toss from the grave of his old supreme commander, Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing.

A chaplain commended his soul to God; rifle volleys cracked; a bugler sounded taps below the gentle rise. With flags at half-staff throughout the U.S. military and government, it was a fine send-off for the country’s last known veteran of World War I, who died peacefully Feb. 27 in his West Virginia farmhouse.

Yet the hallowed ritual at grave No. 34-581 was not a farewell to one man alone. A reverent crowd of the powerful and the ordinary — President Obama and Vice President Biden, laborers and store clerks, heads bowed — came to salute Buckles’s deceased generation, the vanished millions of soldiers and sailors he came to symbolize in the end....

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