Thursday, February 18, 2010

65,038,810 -to- 2. The Last Man's Club

Fare thee well, Canadian WW1 soldier Jack Babcock (died Feb. 18). From over 65 million of you, but 2 remain and at 109 years of age, the era will soon be over.

In my opinion a given era is not over until the last person is no longer with us. The Titanic era will be, or possibly is, over when the last survivor leaves us; the Ragtime era ended with the passing of its last original composer, Eubie Blake. WW1 is still an open book until Claude Choules (England) and Frank Buckles (USA) pass on.

World War One was not a nice place to be and Mustard Gas was a reason: “The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, their eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful and most soldiers had to be strapped to their beds. It usually took a person four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. (Quoted in Wikipedia)

“One nurse, Vera Brittain, wrote: ‘I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke.’"

We toss the word “hero” around so easily these days. Read again what Vera said.


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