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Sisco Deen on the Meaning of Veterans Day, Frank W. Buckles and Mackenzie’s Card

| November 11, 2011

The card a Girl Scout handed Sisco Deen today. (Courtesy of Sisco Deen)

By Sisco Deen

Today we honored our veterans.

A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The “United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”

Sisco Deen (© FlaglerLive)

Sisco Deen (© FlaglerLive)

To serve is an honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand. They do, however, understand in downtown Bunnell.

Following the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Flagler County Government Services Building today, a Brownie Girl Scout approached me and said: “Mr. Veteran, I made this card for you.” (See the copy above.)

I read the card and asked her the significance of the numbers following her name. She said it was her troop number.

I thanked her, shook her hand, took a step backward and gave her a smart salute. She smiled and returned the salute – made my day!

Now a bit of history.

frank buckles last world war I veteran

Frank Buckles

In his remarks today, Lt. General Charles S. Mahan, U.S. Army, Retired, spoke of the passing of the last of our 5 million World War I Vets, Frank Buckles. Gen. Mahan said that with Buckles’s passing, this Veterans Day is the first one without a living link to that “war to end all wars.”

A little research on the internet this afternoon provided some additional information on Private Buckles:

On Feb. 27, 2011, Frank Woodruff Buckles, America’s last living “Doughboy” of World War I, passed away, aged 110 years, at his home in Charles Town, W. Va. Born in Bethany, Missouri, on February 1, 1901 to James C. Buckles, a farmer and his wife Theresa J., he lived through nearly half of the history of our republic. Eager to serve and see action, Buckles enlisted in the military when he was only 16 years of age, at a time when one had to be 21 to enlist.

It took him three tries (after first being turned down by the Marine Corps for being too small and then the Navy for having flat feet) and a bit of elasticity with the truth. But eventually the Army accepted him, and his example of patriotism, perseverance and eagerness to serve others is one we would each do well to emulate. He served with a detachment from Fort Riley, driving ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines in Europe.

During World War II, he was captured by Japanese forces while working in the shipping business, and spent three years in the Philippines as a civilian prisoner.

Buckles was awarded the World War I Victory Medal at the conclusion of that conflict and the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal retroactively following the medal’s creation in 1941, as well as the French Legion of Honor in 1999.

His funeral with military honors was held on March 15, 2011 at Arlington National Cemetery, with President Barak Obama attending.

The war in Iraq will not have its Armistice Day. Nor will Afghanistan. And though the geography of war and the method of our battles have changed, the meaning of service has not. We must always remember and honor those who have served and dedicated their lives to our country as was very well done in the small city of Bunnell and elsewhere in our county today.

Historically Speaking,


Sisco Deen, a captain, served two tours in Vietnam, first in 1965, with an air-refueling wing, then in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing from August 1972 to August 1973. He is the archive curator for the Flagler County Historical Society and FlaglerLive’s historical adviser.

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3 Responses for “Sisco Deen on the Meaning of Veterans Day, Frank W. Buckles and Mackenzie’s Card”

  1. Layla says:

    Thank you very much for your service to our country, Mr. Deen.

    • proud to be a vet says:

      Being a Vietnam Vet, i understand & relate to other ‘Combat ‘ vet’s…and am ‘Forever Grateful’ to all veterans for their service to our country…not only to the men who were in combat,but to ALL who serve..non combat vets are every bit as important to our military’s function as anybody else…So…Thank You !!!!!

  2. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    I too received 2 cards at the Government Services Bldg ceremony, from “Daisy Troop 978” and “Brownie Troop 442”..These young Americans have been doing this every year, since I moved here in 2005..
    Many think of the military only when you read about the conflicts in the news, but the military is more than that. They are one of the largest employers in the USA, with over 2 million in uniform. The military budget (whether you agree or disagree) represents over 4% of what we spend in the USA (GDP). Whether or not, you make the military a career, it provides a discipline for the future, for many young volunteers. Four of my sons have had a great start in life, with a military term of employment. One is retiring in April of next year with 24 years of service. He is but 44 years old. The military also provides day to day assistance and protection, via the Coast Guard and National Guard during storms and emergencies. Interestingly, the military also served as an alternative to jail/prison time, many years ago, when convicted individuals were offered the option of miltary time or time behind the bars. This “rehabilitation” in the miliary reduced the crime rate…and provided direction to the individuals willing to agree to a 2 year term.. But is it for everyone? Certainly not, but for those of us who did serve, you never forget the experience. .

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