NEA should pony up for Buckles film

One might suppose a documentary film about the last American veteran of World War I would arouse enormous interest from those in government with the financial power to support such a project. Apparently not.

As The Associated Press reported this week, producer David DeJonge still needs about $35,000 to complete his 90-minute documentary, “Pershing’s Last Patriot.” It is about West Virginian Frank Buckles, the last living veteran of World War I who died about three years ago at age 110.

DeJonge told the AP he already has spent about $200,000, much of it his own money, on the film. He needs more cash to interview a Yale University expert, purchase high-resolution archival footage, finish final editing and enter the documentary in film festivals.

DeJonge’s plan sounds tailor-made for the National Endowment for the Arts, which hands out hundreds of grants each year. One example is a $40,000 award recommended for Allied Media Projects of Detroit, “to support a multimedia performance installation by hip-hop artist Invincible.”

Surely a film such as DeJonge’s has at least equal value.

Assuming DeJonge’s plan meets NEA guidelines, someone from the agency should offer him a grant to finish and distribute his documentary about a truly great American.