Click here to watch.
In case you didn't understand him, I'm putting the full text of his remarks at the end of this post, but I have a few things to say first. With all of the focus historians put on WWII, the First World War tends to be forgotten...which is a real shame, considering that the last veterans are currently dying out (I think there are two left in the world) These men deserve every bit as much respect as those who fought thirty years later, and I'm glad to see that the few remaining survivors are getting some publicity. But what are we going to do when they're gone? I can't speak for Europe, but I do know that there is, in fact, a WWI memorial next to the Washington Mall - I stop by it every time I visit the memorials. It's tucked off to the side in a stand of trees; it's not well taken care of; and hardly anybody knows what it is. Technically, it's a local memorial to DC residents who died in WWI, but it's the closest thing we've got...so let's at least take care of it. Maybe we could even take a few of those stimulus dollars and clean it up - maybe we could even install a sign to let people know it exists. Wikipedia says that there was a bill introduced last year to expand it and make it a national WWI memorial...I don't know how far that went, but kudos to Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) for the idea. And, lastly, to whoever left that single red rose there on Veterans Day, you're my hero.
Text of Harry Patch's remarks after being made a member of the French Legion of Honor:
"Now, but two of us remain at our post and the people of France, through their president, have honoured us once more by appointing us as Officers of the Legion of Honour."
"Ambassador, I greatly appreciate the way your people respect the memory of those who fell, irrespective of the uniform they wore.
"I will wear this medal with great pride and when I eventually rejoin my mates it will be displayed in my regimental museum as a permanent reminder of the kindness of the people of France."