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June 18th, 2008
06:21 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Honoring Heroes

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

There is one American WWI vet still alive today… the lone survivor of the more than two million men sent overseas to fight that war.

Frank Woodruff Buckles is 107. When he was 16, he lied about his age so he could join the Army.

Today, the Senate honors Mr. Buckles. It’s his second big Washington nod this year – earlier this spring, he met with the President.

It’s incredible to think of how this country and the world have changed in Mr. Buckles’ 107 years… he’s seen the birth of commercial flight, the space program, seen cars go from a luxury to a necessity to a burden, seen more changes on maps than I can count… wow.

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This note may have come a little late today… and I admit it’s shorter than usual. I had a tough time turning away from Tim Russert’s memorial service this afternoon, and besides Mr Buckles’ story, not much seemed to fit today.

I never met Tim Russert, but like so many I admired his work. When I got home last Friday night, I was looking for something to read before I went to bed, and stumbled upon “Wisdom of Our Fathers”. My husband’s mom and stepdad gave it to him for Christmas the year our son was born. I had skimmed bits of it, but that night felt like the right time to give it my full attention.

In the first few pages, this line struck me: “When my life is over, I know that the most important thing I’ll be judged on is what kind of father I was.”

By all accounts, there will be no judging of Mr. Russert’s skills as a father, only praise …and regret, that he didn’t get to see more of the incredible son he and his wife raised.


Filed under: Erica Hill • Tim Russert
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Larry

    I really hope that Frank Buckles' life story get written; it would make for fascinating reading. Thank you Mr Buckles for your willingness to stand post and keep our country safe.

    June 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  2. Genevieve M, TX

    I am also a fan of Tim Russert. He will be missed by many. 🙁

    June 18, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  3. Janna

    Amazing to think someone has been around for 107 years! ... & I was recently thinking about the inventions of the past 20 years alone... I mean, the internet & cell phones...it's unreal how fast our lives have been completely changed. After all of these years, Patriotism has remained a constant, and I am grateful for every single soldier's sacrifices...past, present and future.

    June 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    Erica

    Your post reminds me that Jackie Kennedy said once what did it matter what else she did in life if she failed as a parent. Tim embodied that same feeling perfectly and showed us all that we can be good in our work and good in our life – I wish I had known him. Of all the people, great and small, that have graced the news reports in the last few decades Tim stands taller than most. I hope his example helps us all evaluate our lives and make some positive changes in them.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm |
  5. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    Caring about one's family, friends and strangers, is the true purpose of living. It appears that Tim Russert got that message loud and clear and lived it everyday. He will be missed.
    Frank Woodruff Buckles? What a lifetime of stories he must have.
    I hope someone wrote them all down. It would be a shame to have 107 years of knowledge, not saved for future generations to read about. I wonder if he could have ever imagined a doughboy would also be a chubby, litlle boy with a chef's hat, and working for Pillsbury?
    Such is life.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    June 18, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  6. Bill in Nebraska

    Erica,

    Being late is just fine when it comes to your stories. You always bring us things we would not usually see.

    Frank Woodruff Buckles: 107 years young and still going. That is just plain amazing when you think about it. Yes, it is hard to think about or even understand all of the things this man has seen in his lifetime. We can't even begin to truly understand the sacrifice he and his family made for all of our freedoms.

    This story makes me think about my own Grand Father that served in WWI. He had a lot of funny and great stories that he told us kids over the years. My brother and I have taken to writing them down and keeping them for his son to have someday. It is the least that we can do to honor our Grand Father and all the men like Frank Woodruff Buckles who gave so much for us.

    Like you Erica, I never met Mr. Russert but I felt as though I knew him. Every Sunday my DVR would go off and record his words of wisdom. He was nothing if not a great father, husband, and friend from what we have seen this last week. The people that he helped to bring into new was amazing. Campbell and Wolf can tell you what kind of guy he was.

    Yes I agree that nothing really seems right to post today with the things being said today. I will never forget "FLORIDA, FLORIDA, FLORIDA" He was a great man.

    June 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  7. Heather

    My grandfather served in WWI. He was born in 1900. He was a doctor who practiced medicine for 43 years. He died in 1971. He was too young to die. I watched Tim Russerts service and I think beyond his legacy in journalism was his tremendous love of our country and his family. His son knows he was loved. He knows his father was so very proud of him. He contributions to this world are his humanity and his son Luke who has any appreciation for the things that most would think much about. I guess you could say as much as Tim Russert loved he was loved right back. Now thats a legacy.

    June 18, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  8. Alexander

    Erica, I never met Tim Russert myself, and, in fact, never even watched him on TV, but I feel bad for his un-timely death and hope for the best for his family. Hope your evening is going well, Erica.: )

    June 18, 2008 at 7:30 pm |
  9. JC- Los Angeles

    As respected journalists and seemingly wonderful people, you and Anderson can pay Tim the highest compliment by being impartial in your news coverage but partial to the ones you love most.

    June 18, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  10. Larry

    Could the army have been sued if he had been killed?

    June 18, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  11. Lilibeth

    Mr. Russert is one of a kind. He was someone you could see yourself being friends with because he seemed so genuine and trustworthy. He certainly had his priorities straight, putting family first and foremost in his life. It’s been a few days since he passed on, but my heart is still very heavy with sadness that we lost a good man. May he rest in peace.

    Lilibeth
    Edmonds, Washington

    June 18, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  12. Kathy S

    Erica, I think that Tim is looking down and is beaming with pride at how incredible Luke is and has become. The true tribute to both of them. Although, I also believe that Tim knew it all along.

    He always told us so.

    God bless them.

    June 18, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  13. Lee in CA

    Just about all I can add is "Amen". I too saw much of the service – a moving tribute to a fine journalist and by all accounts, an incredible husband, father and son. In addition, "Big Russ" can take tremendous pride in the kind of father he was as well, as evidenced through the lives of his son and grandson. One can only hope that the sincere outpouring of so much emotion from so many can provide a very small amount of comfort to the Russert family.

    June 18, 2008 at 6:33 pm |