Thursday, March 13, 2008

Le dernier poilu.

Lazare Ponticelli, France's last living World War I veteran, died yesterday at the age of 110. As one would expect, the French press has a lot to say about Ponticelli's death - in the last couple of days, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération (among many others, and from diverse ideological viewpoints) have all paid tribute to le dernier poilu. The English-language press has also taken notice of this historic event - see, for instance, these obituaries in the Times of London and the New York Times. Ponticelli is universally recognized as the last survivor of the 8.4 million soldiers who served in the French armed forces during the Great War, but there seems to be disagreement about how many veterans of the conflict are still living - some say there are eight, some suggest nine, and some claim there are as many as 13. One way or another, the day when no one will be able to tell of their experiences in the "War to End All Wars" is fast approaching. When that day arrives, I hope that people everywhere recognize the import of the event. Requiescat in Pace. AMDG.


At 3/14/2008 10:54 AM, Blogger Steve Bogner said...

I've been reading & blogging about World War 1 - The Making of a Mind by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ - and can see that it was quite a defining moment for France. It's hard for us to imagine the reality of what France went through back then.

At 3/14/2008 11:04 AM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...


"The Making of a Mind" is one of my favorite books by Teilhard - it offers a vivid picture of life at the front, but I think it also sheds a lot of light on Teilhard's personality. I hope you're enjoying the book!

Joe K sj


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