Famous in their own countries, they are little known to the rest of the world. They have never met, and are probably unaware of each other's existence.
Henry Allingham is one of only four remaining British survivors of World War 1 (1914-1918) in which nearly a million of his comrades died.
As a teenager, he enlisted with the Royal Naval Air Service as a skilled mechanic and a year later, in 1916, he was involved in the greatest naval battle of the war, the Battle of Jutland.
In 1917, he was posted to France to support the Royal Flying Corps, and helped service and rescue aircraft which had crashed behind the trenches.
In 1919, he married 22-year-old Dorothy Cater in Chingford, Essex. [In another strange coincidence, the writer of this article was born there... in 1919.]
Henry's wife died 38 years ago, while his two daughters both died in their 80s. He has five grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. Eight of his descendants and their partners flew from their homes in the United States to join him for his 112th birthday.
A report in London's Daily Telegraph says:
To mark Armistice Day in 2005, Mr Allingham travelled to St Omer, near Calais, France, to lay wreaths to fallen comrades.Henry lived in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on the south coast of England for many years, but when his eyesight began to deteriorate he moved to the nearby St Dunstan's care home for blind ex-service personnel.
America's oldest man, George Rene Francis, lives in a nursing home in Sacramento, California. Last month he voted for Barack Obama, whose victory, he declared, "made democracy work."
"... Francis has lived through 19 U.S. presidents and six decades of Jim Crow laws, when he and all black Americans were forced to endure racial segregation," says a report in the Sacramento Observer:
"This week, a beaming, wheelchair-bound Francis told his daughters he felt like jumping up and down after helping to elect the nation's first black president. 'He is going to give black men a break in the world, and give them a better opportunity to live and make more money,' Francis said.''
The report says that Francis grew up listening to Louis Armstrong play trumpet on his front porch in New Orleans's Seventh Ward.
A lifelong Democrat, Francis cast his first ballot in the early 1930s, when he voted for Franklin Roosevelt.
In 1949, before the civil rights movement, he moved west to California seeking a better job.
His wife of four decades, Josephine, died in 1964 at age 63. But Francis's extended family - which includes four children, 18 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great grandchildren -say the man they call "Papa'' never lost his spirit, nor his interest in politics.
An article about American supercenturians (people aged 110 and over) in Wikipedia says: "He credits his longevity to nature, and enjoys a rich diet of pork, eggs, milk and lard. He gave up smoking cigars at the age of 75."
On the other hand, Henry Allingham, according to the BBC, has joked that his secret to longevity is "cigarettes, whisky and wild women."
2008/12/07 오후 4:12
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