Okay, call me a sentimental old fool, but when I read this it made me sad…
LONDON, England (CNN) — Harry Patch — the last surviving British soldier from World War I — died Saturday at the age of 111, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said.
Patch died peacefully at his care home in the southwestern English city of Wells, the ministry announced.
His death came a week after fellow British World War I veteran Henry Allingham died at the age of 113.
Patch was the last surviving soldier to have witnessed the horrors of trench warfare in the first World War
He fought and was seriously wounded in Ypres, Belgium, in 1917 at the Battle of Passchendaele, in which 70,000 of his fellow soldiers died — including three of his close friends.
Although it isn’t a one-to-one comparison, it reminded me of my grandmother’s death a couple of years ago. She was the last of her generation on both sides of my family. When she died, all those personal memories of major historical events through which she lived (the Great Depression, WWII, etc.); simple things like what it was like to live with no electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, TV, telephones, and the like; and also her memories of other family members whom I never had the pleasure of meeting, died along with her. Her grandmother-in-law was born in 1855 and her grandfather was born in 1867. She KNEW them. She TALKED and LAUGHED with them! Imagine the stories they could have told! Those stories, obviously, would pale in comparison to anything Mr. Patch would have to say, but the idea is the same. Both my grandmother and Mr. Patch were the only ones left who could actually say they could remember the sights, sounds, and smells of actually being there, in their respective experiences.
Now, all we have left are fading photos and words on pages of those who came long before us. It really is sad, and in some ways, is a loss for all of us.