February 28, 2011

Last doughboy standing

Frank "Wood" Buckles , after being  turned down by the Marine Corps and rejected by the Navy for being flat-footed, enlisted in the U.S. Army at 16 after lying about his age.  served in France driving ambulances and motorcycles and was discharged in 1920. 

        -Frank Buckles Ww1 At 16
During the early 1940s he worked as a purser for a shipping company in Manila when he was captured by the Japanese in 1942  and sent to a prison camp for three and half years until rescued in 1945.

Legacy.com obituary

Buckles had been battling colds and other minor ailments this winter, but he was not ill at the time of his death.

The day before he died was warm, DeJonge said, and he spent three hours sitting in the sunshine on the porch of his farmhouse, talking with his daughter.
"We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. "But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity, who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow 'Doughboys' are appropriately commemorated."

Last U.S. World War I veteran Frank W. Buckles dies at 110

Frank W. Buckles died Sunday, sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused.

In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. "I knew there'd be only one someday," he said a few years back. "I didn't think it would be me."

Mr. Buckles, a widower, died on his West Virginia farm, said his daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who had been caring for him there.

Flanagan, 55, said her father had recently recovered from a chest infection and seemed in reasonably good health for a man his age. At 12:15 a.m. Sunday, he summoned his live-in nurse to his bedroom. As the nurse looked on, Flanagan said, Mr. Buckles drew a breath, and his eyes fell shut.

"We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation's history," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said of Mr. Buckles, whose distant generation was the first to witness the awful toll of modern, mechanized warfare. "But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow doughboys are appropriately commemorated."

As time thinned the ranks of those long-ago U.S. veterans, the nation hardly noticed them vanishing, until the roster dwindled to one ex-soldier, embraced in his final years by an appreciative public.

"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.

Here he is at 106 wearing the French Legion of Honor.

      -Frank Buckles At 106

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 23, 2011

Missionary Americans killed by pirates

 Yacht Victims Pirates

Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle.

Four Americans killed by Somali pirates before SEALS boarded yacht

Somali pirates slaughtered a former Hollywood director and three other Americans on Tuesday on a Bible-packed yacht before Navy SEALs could save them.

Scott Adam and the other hostages were gunned down after one of the pirates stopped negotiating and fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the destroyer Sterett - 600 yards away.

Then gunfire "erupted from inside the cabin of the Quest," Navy Vice Admiral Mark Fox said.

By the time SEALs boarded the yacht, the hostages were mortally wounded or dead - and some of the pirates were standing on the bow "with their hands in the air in surrender," Fox said.

Not all the pirates gave up without a fight.

Special forces killed one with a knife and shot another aboard the ship dead, officials said.

Adam, who worked on shows such as "The Love Boat" and "The Dukes of Hazzard," lived in California and owned the 58-foot yacht with his wife, Jean.

Their bodies are now headed home on the USS Enterprise.

For three harrowing days, the hijacked yacht was sailing toward the Somali coast with four American hostages and 17 pirates packed on board.

The purpose of their global cruise was to bring bibles to far-flung corners of the world.

In their 2011 travels, the Adams visited Phuket, Thailand; Galle, Sri Lanka; and Cochin, India. They passed out Catholic Bibles from the American Bible Society and New International Version Bibles from the International Bible Society.

On their website they spoke of finding “homes” for their Bibles as a part of “friendship evangelism.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2011

Making up rules ahead of time

The Ars Moriendi and Moral Thinking

I have been reading Rob Moll's excellent Intervarsity Press book The Art of Dying.  One of Moll's key points is that we know we will die and in order to do so well, we need to have thought about it ahead of time.  He doesn't mean that we should obsess about death, sleep in caskets, or wear black all the time like a disturbed woman I saw on a television program.  Instead, he encourages us to think about what it means to have a good death.  While we are removed from the immediate danger, take advantage of the calm to consider how we should die and how we should make decisions about dying.
The greater lesson is that we should all take pains to reflect on who we want to be and what we really believe. It was once common to speak of the examined life. That phrase fell under the massive heap of self-help materials and endless reflection on why we don't have a better sex life, more money, and a better job. But the examined life goes deeper than that. It comes down to knowing who you are. Without it, you will almost inevitably run in the face of danger, quail before the bully, and excel in self-justification after the fact rather than action in the relevant frame.

Unprepared and without prior thought, none of us know how we will react in these situations. But we can prepare ourselves for the event and drastically increase the chance that we WILL do what we merely hope we would.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

"I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age."

Bernard Nathanson Dead at 84

Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, an obstetrician who oversaw the performance of about 75,000 abortions before becoming a leading pro-life advocate and a convert to the Catholic faith, died at his home in New York Feb. 21 after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 84.

After performing his last abortion in 1979 and declaring himself to be pro-life, Nathanson produced the 1985 film
The Silent Scream, which shows sonogram images of a child in the womb shrinking from an abortionist’s instruments, and the documentary film Eclipse of Reason, which displays and explains various abortion procedures in graphic detail. Both films had a significant impact on the abortion debate, solidified his credentials among pro-life advocates and earned him the scorn of his former pro-abortion friends and colleagues.
He often admitted that he and other abortion advocates in the 1960s lied about the number of women who died from illegal abortions at that time, inflating the figure from a few hundred to 10,000 to gain sympathy for their cause.

In his 1996 autobiography
The Hand of God, he told the story of his journey from pro-abortion to pro-life, saying that viewing images from the new ultrasound technology in the 1970s convinced him of the humanity of the unborn baby. Outlining the enormous challenge of restoring a pro-life ethic, he wrote, “Abortion is now a monster so unimaginably gargantuan that even to think of stuffing it back into its cage … is ludicrous beyond words. Yet that is our charge — a herculean endeavor.”

He noted, regretfully, “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age.”

Yet the advent of ultrasound technology eventually convinced him that a true human being is killed in abortion, and he began to develop what he called the “vector theory of life.” By this he meant tha
t from the time of conception, the unborn child has a self-directed force of life that, if not interrupted, will lead to the birth of a human baby. He knew this was not “potential life,” as the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2011

"Washington is the mightiest name on earth" Abe Lincoln

I never liked Presidents' Day because of its slide into moral equivalency.

We do Washington, and the nation, two great disservices by calling today Presidents Day. Doing so elevates rogues and mediocrities to Washington's level and lowers Washington to the level of a mere President.

So let's celebrate the remarkable man our first president was, a truly transformative leader that founded a great nation and changed the world.

His motto: "For God and My Country".  His other personal motto: "Deeds not words".

What did this home-schooled man accomplish?

• Elected Surveyor of Culpepper County - 1749-1751
• Appointed Adjutant General of Virginia militia - 1752, an adjutant general is the chief administrative officer of the militia, this made him a Major at the age of 20
• Appointed Lieutenant and Colonel of Virginia Regiment - 1754
• Commander of Virginia Military - 1755-1758
• Elected to Virginia House of Burgesses - 1759-1774
• Justice of the Peace - Fairfax County, Virginia - 1760-1774
• Delegate to Continental Congress - 1774-1775
• Appointed Commander-in-Chief of Continental Forces by Continental Congress - 1775-1783
• Presiding officer over Constitutional Convention - 1787
• First President of the United States - 1789-1797 - elected twice

• Chaired Constitutional Convention in 1789
• Averted war with France or Britain in early part of his presidency, always promoting neutrality toward conflicts between other nations
• Stopped the first uprising against Federal government, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, in 1794
• By voluntarily retiring at the end of his second term, Washington established the American precedent of a non-violent transfer of power to new administrations
• Oversaw creation of first National Bank
• Oversaw creation of Jay Treaty which ended many conflicts remaining with Britain at the end of the Revolutionary War

What King George III said when he learned that Washington was going to retire as Commander of the Continental Forces

"If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world

This is what Abraham Lincoln had to say about George Washington

This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. We are met to celebrate this day. Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2011

"His last meal was ice cream" Omer Baumgater R.I.P.

I suspect Mr. Baumgater wrote his own obituary and quite enjoyed it.  Good for him!

Omer L. Baumgartner 

 Omer Baumgartner

AMES, Iowa - Noted Midwestern raconteur Omer L. Baumgartner passed away at this home in Ames, Iowa on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. He was 90 years old. Mr. Baumgartner had lived a long and passionate life dedicated to rambunctious performances and dairy products.

Born on a dairy farm in Walnut, Ill., Baumgartner was prodigious with the movement of manure from an early age, and exercising these and other talents, earned recognition for his National 4-H Grand Champion Dairy Heifer, Clementine's Ramona, in 1930 at the age of 10.

After this debut, and as the Depression raged, Baumgartner cut his teeth in the livestock industry while attending hundreds of county and state fairs, showing and selling cattle, frying oysters, skinning rabbits, and drinking whiskey.

While still a freshman at the University of Illinois, he successfully quelled the great dairy upraising of 1938, averting a desperate ice cream shortage in Chicago, and was immediately recruited, without finishing college, by the state's Guernsey Breeders Association as a field agent.

Despite never learning to cook anything other than fried oysters, Baumgartner attained the rank of captain during World War II for running mess halls feeding over 5,000 in Tennessee and Alabama for the Army Air Corps. He was wildly popular with the troops for his mess hours bongo drum performances accompanied by dancing girls.

Baumgartner notably worked for L.S. Heath and Company, running the dairy division and inventing Heath Bar ice cream in 1951. He also co-ran Wilkinson's Office Supplies with his wife Jattie Wilkinson Baumgartner, serving one-third of the state of Illinois and parts of Iowa.

Baumgartner disliked vegetables his whole life. Despite consuming more than 2,000 pounds of butter, he never suffered from any kind of heart disease. His last meal was ice cream.

via Ace

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:04 PM | Permalink

“I’m impatient to die. Oh, I’ve always been impatient”

To Accept What Cannot Be Helped by Ann Hulbert in The American Scholar.

In June, my mother was looking at what was almost surely her last summer, and very aware of her enviable circumstances—a second house, a beloved husband, four attentive children with their own families. She wanted to get busy making the most of that good fortune, not to dawdle in a Brooklyn hospital submitting to radiation or chemo. She valued youthfulness, and it was true enough, as the pulmonologist reminded her, that she was still mobile. That was precisely why she was ready not to hang on. Prolonged shuffling was what she could not face—dallying and going through money and medical resources better spent, she often said, on the truly young.

In fact, she said almost immediately that she wanted to “be done” as quickly as possible. “I’m impatient to die. Oh, I’ve always been impatient,” my mother murmured one weekend soon after the diagnosis, before she and my father had yet left Brooklyn for Massachusetts.
It was the beginning of the end, which arrived four days later, mid-morning on December 4, 2009. None of us was granted serenity, but I don’t think it’s wishful thinking to say we were united in a sense that it was turmoil preceding release. “I’m trying to die, I’m trying to die,” she told me in the middle of the second night as I sat holding her hand. By the morning she had slipped into a coma. The five of us gathered around her for her final 24 hours, sometimes taking turns and sometimes all together, talking, stroking, moistening her lips, quietly singing, every so often taking her clenched hand off the bed rail so she could relax, only to watch her grasp it again. My brother was there when our mother called out for her own mother.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:03 PM | Permalink

February 14, 2011

Death by fall after walking away from a hot air balloon crash

The former British pilot was a retired horticulturalist  and father of six with a passion for hot air ballooning.  While in the French Alps, ballooning alone, he crashed, then phoned his friends to say he was okay. 

Walking to some chalets a half mile away, he lost his footing and fell down a ravine to his death.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 PM | Permalink

Death by First Kiss

Teenage girl collapses and dies after first kiss

Jemma Benjamin, 18, was kissed by fellow university student Daniel Ross, 21, at his home after a night out together.

But Miss Benjamin suddenly slumped onto the sofa - and died in front of Mr Ross's eyes.

The inquest heard Jemma died from SADS, a rare heart condition which kills 500 people in Britain each year.
Mr Ross, who had known Miss Benjamin for three months, tried desperately to save her before paramedics arrived on the scene.

But the inquest heard nothing could have be done for Miss Benjamin, who was described as a "picture of health".

Mr Ross told police that he and Miss Benjamin had been friends for three months - but that was the first time they had kissed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 PM | Permalink

In the Valley of the Shadow

In the Wall St Journal, Time and Possibilities

At the age of 54, in the middle of a distinguished career as a scholar of the Hebrew Bible, the Harvard professor James L. Kugel received a diagnosis of cancer and was given a few years to live. Seven years later, with his cancer in remission, he began writing a book about the experience. Or rather, he began writing a book, “In the Valley of the Shadow,” that uses his encounter with death to investigate and report on a state of mind notoriously resistant to literary exploration: the state of mind in which you intuit something on the order of God.
Believing in God, Kugel suggests — possibly being a tad ahistorical — originally meant aligning yourself with the force of the universe, of humbly opening yourself up to its grandeur, more than it meant asserting faith in a particular deity.
Where Kugel is really brilliant, though, is in teasing out of his own brush with death, as well as out of religious texts and artifacts, an account of what intimations of God feel like. They feel, he says, like being awakened to a reality underneath the ordinary reality, a domain that is dramatic and extreme and made up of absolute good and absolute evil.
But being given a few years to live appears to have engendered Kugel’s own, very intimate shift in perspective, and when he talks openly about his new, chagrined grasp of his all-too-human condition, he adds something raw and beautiful to his exegetical prowess. The scientists “have misunderstood the most fundamental element of religious belief,” he declares. To the religious — or at least to Kugel and his sources — religion is an experience more than a cosmology.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

February 11, 2011

"Earth was Heaven's womb"

Dr. Peter Kreeft on What Difference Does Heaven Make?

The answer to the question is only the difference between hope and despair in the end, between two totally different visions of life; between "chance or the dance."  At death we find out which vision is true: does it all go down the drain in the end, or are all the loose threads finally tied together into a gloriously perfect tapestry? Do the tangled paths through the forest of life lead to the golden castle or over the cliff and into the abyss? Is death a door or a hole?

To medieval Christendom, it was the world beyond the world that made all the difference in the world to this world. The Heaven beyond the sun made the earth "under the sun" something more than "vanity of vanities". Earth was Heaven's womb, Heaven's nursery,
The glory has departed. We moderns have lost much of medieval Christendom's faith in Heaven because we have lost its hope of Heaven, and we have lost its hope of Heaven because we have lost its love of Heaven. And we have lost its love of Heaven because we have lost its sense of Heavenly glory.
Heaven and Hell – suppose, just suppose it were really, really true! What difference would that make?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:04 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2011

The modern English graveyard

The solemn quiet English graveyard may be no more.

Solent News & Photo Agency

Modern face of mourning: The colourful 'poundland' shrines across Britain that councils are trying to wipe out

I believe it useful to meditate on the quiet dignity of the inscriptions - the love expressed in a simple, well-tended grave is a fitting memorial to life and loss. What a contrast to look at a new face of grief in modern Britain. As these pictures show, there is a growing trend for graves to be festooned with toys, plastic ornaments and trinkets, balloons, wind-chimes and hanging objects.

The sight and sound of these exhibitions grows ever more exuberant - so much so that an Essex council is introducing a one-month limit on what can be put on a grave. Other councils are surely likely to follow.

Traditionalists argue that graveyards are places of peace and contemplation and those who visit to lay flowers on Mum’s grave shouldn’t have to negotiate their way past piles of soft toys or be disturbed by the cacophony of competing wind-chimes.

But for their part, those who want to heap graves with cuddly toys protest their right to remember their dead in whatever way they choose. Which means that anything goes, from a gravestone in the shape of a Newcastle United shirt, to life-sized effigies of the deceased, to resin pigs and dogs, plastic dolphins and even meerkats.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:23 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2011

Funeral Pyres in Colorado

Mountain Funeral Pyre

Colorado is the only state that allows open air funeral pyres

Belinda Ellis' farewell went as she wanted. One by one, her family placed juniper boughs and logs about her body, covered in red cloth atop a rectangular steel grate inside a brick-lined hearth. With a torch, her husband lit the fire that consumed her, sending billows of smoke into the blue-gray sky of dawn.

When the smoke subsided, a triangle-shaped flame flickered inside the circle of mourners, heavily-dressed and huddling against zero-degree weather.

"Mommy, you mean the world to me and it's hard to live without you," called out Ellis' weeping daughter, Brandi, 18. "It's hard to breathe, it's hard to see and it's hard to think about anything but you."

-- The Crestone End of Life Project conducted its first open-air cremation in January 2008 and has performed 18 since. Each pending cremation sets in motion phone calls to the Saguache County Sheriff's Office, the fire department and the coroner. State and local agencies have given permits to the group to conduct the cremations.

Some residents initially opposed the idea, worried about pollution, smells and heavy traffic. The group addressed every worry, said project director Gaines.

-- It takes up to four and a half hours for a body to burn completely. Since there's no way of separating human ashes from those of the wood the family receives about five gallons of ashes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2011


That evil exists and sometimes can possess a person I have no trouble believing and, in fact, that's what I thought of when I read the following story.

'I had an overwhelming desire to kill a child': Top German executive murders boy, ten, and blames it on stress at the office

German police have arrested a top phone company executive who kidnapped and murdered a 10 year-old boy - because he had a bad day at the office.

--'I drove around aimlessly looking for a random victim, a child because I wanted to have power over somebody,' he said in a reported statement. 'A girl or a boy it didn't matter. I needed somebody so I could relieve my frustration.'

His victim was a boy named by police only as Mirco who was cycling home at 10pm after spending the evening at a skating rink. He made the boy climb into his car before raping and then strangling him.

That executive didn't lack education, didn't lack for a loving family, wasn't suffering from any psychological disorders, so what accounts for his sudden desire to kill a child?

That some people could become possessed with evil is a belief I share with millions. Which is why, I think, there's such an interest in exorcism. I was fascinated when I read The Rite and I plan to see the movie this weekend.

"The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist" (Matt Baglio)

Dr. Pat McNamera recounts the first U.S. exorcism to become public knowledge. "Do Not Lose Courage!" An Iowa Exorcism, 1928.

At times the work was unendurable. An unnatural stench filled the room, and though Emma ate little, she vomited dozens of times daily. She screamed and moaned for hours in unearthly voices "that no human could reproduce." Witnesses noticed that her "face became so distorted that no one could recognize her."

..... During the exorcism process it was noted that Father Theophilus seemed to age twenty years. Father Steiger was reaching his own endurance limit, and the Sisters approached collective breakdown. But they became hopeful after St. Thérèse of Lisieux, known as the "Little Flower," appeared to Emma, saying: "Do not lose courage! The end is soon at hand." On the ceiling they saw roses, traditionally understood as evidence of Thérèse's intervention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:38 PM | Permalink

February 1, 2011

Buried under snow

Body of man who shot himself in car was buried under snow for a WEEK

A man found dead in a car buried beneath several feet of snow shot himself a week earlier, police revealed today.

The corpse of the man, who apparently shot himself last week, was discovered early today in Queens, New York.

Police believe he killed himself in the car with a shotgun which was found at the scene. He could have been dead for as long as a week.

One resident who lives across the street said he didn't recall hearing a shot fired.

'I never thought anything of the car being there for a few days,' he said.

'The car behind it has been buried under snow for three weeks now. People leave their cars buried around here. It didn't make me look twice.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 PM | Permalink

'Room of Forgotten Souls'

Cuckoo's Nest hospital discovers 3500 cremated remains in 'room of forgotten souls'.

The mental hospital which was used in the 1975 cult film that helped launch Jack Nicholson's career, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, has unearthed the remains of 3,500 people.

Politicians visiting in the dilapidating, 128-year-old hospital discovered the cremated ashes in 2004 in a number of corroding copper cannisters in the storage area they dubbed 'the room of forgotten souls'.

Now, in an attempt to find out who the thousands of ashes belong to, Oregon State Hospital has published online the names, birthdays and dates of death of patients who passed away between 1914 and the 1970s.


Officials were able to identify all but four canisters of remains.

Relatives have claimed those belonging to 120 people since Mr Courtney first drew attention to the cans seven years ago.

Politicians made it possible to publish the names with a new state law exempting the listing from medical privacy laws. Family members can take custody of the remains if they prove they're related by blood or adoption.

Oregon State Senate President Peter Courtney was the hero here

It's a never ending story,' Mr Courtney said, 'something that I could never really stop thinking about or working on.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:57 PM | Permalink

The Truth About Grief

Five misconceptions about grief and grieving.

New Ways to Think About Grief

The five stages of grief are so deeply embedded in our culture that they've become virtually inescapable. Every time we experience loss — whether personal or national — we hear them recited: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

---If you were to read Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's On Death and Dying — the book that in 1969 gave the five stages their debut — for the first time today, you might be surprised to discover that Kübler-Ross, then a staff psychiatrist at Billings Hospital in Chicago, was actually writing about the experience of facing one's own death, not the death of someone else

Myth No. 1: We Grieve in Stages

In her 2003 report, Genevro concluded that the information being used to help the bereaved was misaligned with the latest research, which increasingly indicates that grief is not a series of steps that ultimately deposit us at a psychological finish line but rather a grab bag of symptoms that come and go and, eventually, simply lift.

Myth No. 2: Express It; Don't Repress It

---expressing negative emotions can actually prolong your distress...tamping down or avoiding those feelings, known as "repressive coping," actually has a protective function....talking or writing about the death of a spouse did not help people adjust to that loss any better.

Myth No. 3: Grief Is Harder on Women

--relatively speaking, men suffer more from being bereaved.

Myth No. 4: Grief Never Ends

---the worst of grief is usually over within about six months.

Myth No. 5: Counseling Helps

That doesn't mean that no one is ever helped by counseling but rather that counseling doesn't, on average, seem to hasten grief's departure.

"The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss" (Ruth Davis Konigsberg)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 PM | Permalink

Excess heat

If you knew that your town was considering heating the community swimming pool you so enjoy with excess heat from the crematorium next door to save money, would you still swim there?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 PM | Permalink