Daughter of Last World War I Veteran Wants Father to Lie In State at Capitol Rotunda

CHARLES TOWN, West Virginia -- The daughter of Frank Buckles, who was the last American veteran of World War I, is urging lawmakers to let him lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Sunday.

Buckles died at his home in Charles Town, West Virginia, about 300 miles (480km) northeast of Charleston, on Feb. 27. He was 110.

Susannah Buckles Flanagan said her father, who served as a military ambulance driver, wanted to lie in the rotunda to honor the memory of all WWI veterans.

"He looked upon this as his final duty, which he took seriously," she said.

"If the last American soldier surviving is not suitable to serve as a symbol around which we can rally to honor those who served their country in the Great War, then who can serve that purpose? There is no one left," she said in a letter released Saturday.

It is rare for the body of anyone to lie in "state" or "honor" in the Capitol Rotunda. During a such a ceremony, the Capitol is opened so the public can file past a flag-draped coffin positioned in the middle of the Rotunda. The passersby then pay their respects.

A Rotunda ceremony is traditionally reserved for presidents and other government figures. The US has only honored a handful of unelected figures in the rotunda.

Buckles will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery and President Barack Obama has ordered that flags on U.S. government buildings fly at half-staff that day.