Lazare Ponticelli (1897–2008) was the longest-surviving officially
recognized veteran of the First World War from France and the last
poilu of its trenches to die. Born in Italy, he moved to France in
1906, and lied about his age to join the French Army in 1914. Italy
entered the War in 1915, and subsequently Ponticelli was transferred to
its army when authorities discovered his true ancestry. After the War,
he and his brothers founded the piping and metal work company
"Ponticelli Frères" ("Ponticelli Brothers"), which produced supplies
for the Second World War effort and as of 2009 is still in business.
Ponticelli was the oldest living man of Italian birth and the oldest
man living in France. Every Armistice Day until 2007, he attended
ceremonies honoring deceased veterans. In his later years, he
criticized war and stored his bravery awards from the First World War
in a shoe box. While he felt unworthy of the state funeral the French
government offered him, he eventually accepted one. However he asked
for the emphasis of the procession to be on the common soldiers who
died on the battlefield. French president Nicolas Sarkozy honored his
wish, and dedicated a plaque to them at the procession.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Andrew Watson made his debut with the Scotland national football team
and became the world's first black international football player.
Gandhi began the Dandi March (pictured), a 24-day walk to defy the
British tax on salt in colonial India.
Anschluss: Austria was occupied by the Wehrmacht, and subsequently
became Ostmark, a province within the German Reich.
The Cold War: U.S. President Harry S. Truman proclaimed the Truman
Doctrine to help stem the spread of Communism.
A series of thirteen coordinated bomb explosions took place in Bombay,
India, killing over 250 civilians and injuring over 700 others.
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić was assassinated in Belgrade.
Wiktionary's word of the day:
1. Dowdy, unkempt, or unfashionable.
2. (dated) Ill- or bad-tempered
Wikiquote quote of the day:
All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind
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