W.Va. veteran’s dream of WWI memorial in jeopardy
6:00 a.m. EST, December 22, 2012
A bill that U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller twice introduced to create a World War I memorial in Washington, D.C., no longer bears the name of the late Frank Buckles, the West Virginia veteran who pushed for it.
Nor does the version the Senate was considering Friday now call for a memorial on the National Mall. Rather, the bill that Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., fast-tracked Thursday night calls only for the creation of a centennial commission that would consider how to appropriately commemorate the “Great War” between 2014 and 2018.
Their state is home to the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.
The bill was in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Rockefeller has no seat. But a spokesman said Rockefeller supports creation of the commission so the U.S. can begin planning for the centennial.
Buckles, the last American doughboy, died last year at 110 in Charles Town.
He devoted the last few years of his life to campaigning for greater recognition for his former comrades, enlisting Rockefeller to his cause. Rockefeller first introduced the Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act in 2009, then reintroduced it earlier this year with Republican Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.
It would have rededicated the District of Columbia War Memorial to include the wording “National World War I Memorial.”