Archive for February 28, 2011

Bring Back the Geezers

February 28, 2011 1 comment

Having watched the Academy Awards last night and read a sweet account of the life of the last surviving World War One veteran this morning, I have come to the conclusion that older is better, that “youth is wasted on the young” and that aged wines really do have more character.

The Oscars

It was an attempt to attract a younger demographic, we’re told; the only way to explain why 32-year old James Franco and 28-year old Anne Hathaway hosted the Oscars Sunday night. Oh, they weren’t horrible…just shoulder-shruggingly “eh.” Note to Oscar broadcast strategists- the younger demographic doesn’t really watch TV anymore.

I’ve given my fair share of speeches in my life and sometimes you have a line you think is hilarious but when you deliver it, people just sit there stony-faced, looking at you like a three-horned alien. This is what it came off like with Hathaway and Franco. Their writers were absolutely lame. Don’t get me wrong, they were a lovely couple; earnest as the day is long, hard-working and- not terribly interesting.

So most of the attention fell where it probably should anyway…on the movie industry and not the hosts. Short of bringing Bob Hope back from the dead, I vote for Steve Martin as the permanent host of Oscar night forever more.

Last World War I Veteran Dies

The Washington Post’s Paul Duggan has a lovely piece today on the passing of 110-year old, Frank W. Buckles, the last surviving veteran of World War I. What a class act, this guy. He spent about the last 60 of his years living in Charlestown, West Virginia on a 300-acre farm.

He faked his way into the Army enlisting at the age of 16. He accepted his role as the last living WWI soldier with grace and dignity. At the age of 108, he testified before Congress on refurbishing a memorial to World War I veterans.

“Frank was a history book in and of himself, the kind you can’t get at the library,” said his friend Muriel Sue Kerr. Having lived from the dawn of the 20th century, he seemed to never tire of sharing his and the country’s old memories – of the First World War, of roaring prosperity and epic depression, and of a second, far more cataclysmic global conflict, which he barely survived…

After the armistice, he traveled the globe as a purser on commercial ships and was caught in Manila when Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941. He endured 38 months of cruel deprivation as a civilian prisoner during World War II before being freed in a daring military raid…

He was an honored guest on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and in the Oval Office. School children, history buffs, journalists, younger veterans, and even Britain’s defense secretary visited him at the farm, admiring him like a museum piece.

Frank W. Buckles drove ambulances during his stint in Europe so he escaped injury, but saw the devastation first-hand as he ferried the wounded to treatment. Just one hitch in the Army and no wounds and no medals usually mean your remains go in a vault at Arlington National Cemetery. The Bush administration ordered an exception for Mr. Buckles so he will get the white marble headstone he wanted.

I always love hearing longevity advice from folks like Frank W. Buckles and his was simple and to the point…”When you think you’re dying…don’t.”