The Great War – Not Quite History

The Great War has come alive for a group of students in St. Helena, CA this year. A dozen students in the local high school show up an hour before their peers to study a largely forgotten war.

The class was created when the history teacher Frank Mazzi heard about Frank Buckles, the sole surviving World War I vet. Mr. Mazzi heard that Buckles would be the grand marshal for the South Charleston Armed Forces Day Parade. He bought tickets, so that he could attend the parade and hopefully meet Mr. Buckles. Local citizens heard of his efforts and arranged a meeting with Mr. Buckles and his daughter Susannah. Upon meeting, they hit it off, and Mr. Buckles agreed to meet with some of the students.

A few months later, two students and Mr. Mazzi traveled to visit Mr. Buckles and interview him for the class. Mr. Buckles greeted the students, “I have lived a long time.” Sarah McMaster, one of the students says that it was an experience she will never forget. Mr. Buckles shared about his transported to Europe in 1917 on the Carpathia, the ship that had rescued Titanic survivors only five years earlier. He also shared his experiences during World War II in a Japanese prison camp with the students.

A copy of the interview has been requested by the Library of Congress. The students in the class are creating a documentary of the interview. Then they will continue to study everything about the Great War from alliances to zeppelins.

Below is a photo of Mr. Buckles at the 2007 National Memorial Day Parade, which is sponsored by the American Veterans Center. He is receiving a commendation from the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute. Mr. Buckles was one of three surviving World War I veterans at the time of the photo.

Frank Buckles

Explore posts in the same categories: Veteran News, WWI

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