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Lawmakers deny last doughboy honor of lying in state at Capitol
Mr. Steel added that some other sort of Capitol memorial will be organized to honor Mr. Buckles.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who also introduced a bill to authorize Mr. Buckles‘ body to lie in honor at the Capitol, has suggested she could accept a compromise.
“In the end, the congresswoman wants Mr. Buckles to be honored in a way that respects his service and sacrifice as well as the service of all America’s veterans,” said Capito spokeswoman Jamie Corley.
Ms. Corley said the lawmaker “hopes that Congress can quickly come to an agreement, as this bickering does not do justice to Mr. Buckles or his fellow World War I veterans who he’s come to represent.”
“As the last American doughboy, Mr. Buckles is representative of all our great World War I veterans,” American Legion spokesman John Raughter said. “The American Legion thinks it’s very appropriate to have him honored in the Capitol.”
AmVets spokesman Ryan Gallucci said a Rotunda memorial for Mr. Buckles “is something that we wholeheartedly would’ve supported.”
“If you look back at who has been honored with being lain in state at the Capitol Rotunda, many times they have been critical links to our nation’s military history,” he said.
While presidents and a handful of lawmakers have been given the honor of being lain in state in the Rotunda — the large room under the Capitol dome — Congress occasionally has granted the privilege for others.
The last person to receive the honor was civil rights activist Rosa Parks in 2005. Other non-elected people to be lain in state in the Rotunda include: Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Michael Gibson, Capitol Police officers killed in the line of duty, in 1998; an unknown soldier of the Vietnam War era, in 1984; FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, in 1972; and Army five-star Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in 1964.
Ronald Reagan in 2004 was the last president to have his body lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Mr. Buckles, born in Missouri in 1901, enlisted in the Army during World War I at 16 after lying about his age. During the “War to End all Wars,” he joined the Army Ambulance Service and went overseas to England and then to France.
After the war, he worked on merchant ships. He was captured as a civilian by Japanese forces during World War II and survived more than three years in prisoner of war camps.
In the 1950s, he moved to a farm near Charles Town, W.Va. In his final years, he pushed for the establishment of a national memorial in Washington for World War I veterans. He was presented with the French Legion of Honor in 1999.
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About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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