Canada’s last surviving veteran of the First World War has died, aged 109. As a historian, it always pains me when these little events inevitably occur. Nevertheless, may we all live to the ripe old age of 109. According to the article, “just two other veterans of World War I remain alive: American Frank Buckles, also aged 109, and British-born Australian Claude Choules, who is 108.”
In our lifetimes, the same will be said of the last survivors of World War II… and then Vietnam. There are freshmen at the University of Oregon who were not born until after the Gulf War, and many — if not most — of them have absolutely no idea what even the Cold War was about.
The past is slipping away. It’s too hard to convey in text messages and Twitter feeds.