DeJonge Studios releases documentary on last World War One Veteran Frank Buckles today. National dialogue surrounding WWI Memorial again surfaces.

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Last WWI Veteran Frank Buckles documentary released two days before competition for design is held for new WWI Memorial. Director discloses answer surrounding the Speaker of the House John Boehner's denial of honoring Buckles with Rotunda ceremony.

Pershing's Last Patriot the Frank Buckles Story

Buckles nearly died from the trip to Senate. We were calling Senator Byrd’s office from the car trying to get oxygen because the nurse noticed Frank’s lips were turning blue. In the end the VFW ignored their oldest member, prepared to testify against him

A Memorial Day must see: Four years after his death, Frank Buckles’ film is released chronicling his life and ongoing effort to honor all WWI Veterans on the National Mall. The feature length documentary produced by DeJonge Studios in collaboration with Survivor Quest is now available on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and VUDU. Pershing’s Last Patriot is written and produced by Buckles spokesman and escort David DeJonge who also fights for the National Mall location of a National WWI Memorial.

Test screened in several states the film has taken 8 years to complete. “Because the story was constantly changing we needed to recut it as we went. This included the Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejecting the public demands for Buckles' body to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda,” DeJonge stated.

During the test screenings, nobody went to the bathroom, nobody got refills and nobody moved. DeJonge recalls, “I sat through dozens of screenings and nobody would move. They would drop their cell phones, keys and drinks and not move to pick them up. Nobody even got up to use the bathroom. This is a director's dream and a concession stand's nightmare.”

The film covers not only Frank Buckles' life as a World War One ambulance driver but also as a POW in WWII and eventually the nation's oldest lobbyist fighting for a WWI Memorial. “On March 6th 2008 Frank and I visited the abandoned District of Columbia WWI Memorial on the National Mall and he asked if we could get it restored. He also asked why there was not a memorial on the Mall for every WWI Veteran.”

Years later the public continues to demand the National Mall location. “Op-eds are written asking a valid question: Why not the National Mall? The WWI Centennial Commission has a full deck- they have the VFW, the American Legion (formed by General Pershing) and the American Battle Monuments Commission (also formed by General Pershing) running it, and yet they have chosen not to fight for honor on the Mall but honor on a distant street corner.”

The film is crystal clear on Frank Buckles' dying wish was for a memorial on the Mall. “We walk the viewer through the inside negotiations and arguments that occurred. Frank was asked to come and testify at the age of 108.” Buckles testified in December of 2009 before the Senate. “Frank nearly died from the trip. We were calling Senator Byrd’s office from the car trying to track down oxygen because the nurse noticed Frank’s lips were turning blue. In the end the welcome party was to have the VFW not acknowledge him and sit on the opposite side of the room ready to testify against him. This was the last trip Buckles would ever make," DeJonge stated

The first screenings featured a phone call with Speaker Boehner’s press secretary Michael Steel following Buckles' death in 2011. “We recorded the conversation (with his permission) and when we first screened the film we included it. Audible gasps and profanities were repeatedly heard at the packed theaters. This segment was so powerful it was all the audience focused on. So we edited it out. What America needs to know is that the reason Speaker Boehner said Buckles could not lie in honor in the Rotunda was that they liked the parking better at Arlington,” DeJonge stated. The interviews in the film show how fractured to the core America was because of this decision.

First on the scene to help the family was the Blackfeet Nation of Indians. American officials did not contact the family for several days after Buckles' death and the US was 4th in line to offer help, beaten by the Native Americans and two allies. Pershing's Last Patriot offers exclusive interviews with them and others surrounding the lack of support offered.

DeJonge says America still has a chance. “The film does not have to end the story. America should watch it and understand how dysfunctional our Nation's capital is, and they should let Congress know their thoughts regarding a memorial location wherever they think it should be.”

DeJonge produced and directed the film with Joshua Stewart and Andrew Kouklis. Richard Thomas who starred in The Walton's and All Quiet on the Western Front does the introduction.

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The film is distributed by Virgil Films & Entertainment, founded in 2003 by Joe Amodei to acquire, market, and distribute DVD, TV and Digital product in the theatrical feature film, documentaries, special interest and sports categories. The company has built partnerships with OWN, Sundance Channel Home Entertainment, National Geographic Cinema Ventures, ESPN, MLB Productions, Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets and other high-profile entertainment brands since their inception. Releases from Virgil Films & Entertainment include the documentary Miss Representation; Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse, the critically acclaimed documentary Bridegroom, the timeless Forks Over Knives, and the Oscar® nominated documentary Restrepo. Follow them on twitter: @virgilfilms |


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David DeJonge
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