I didn't know that the US military provides a uniformed escort for all casualties to ensure they are delivered safely to the next of kin and are treated with dignity and respect along the way until I read Lt. Colonel Strobl's account (via BlackFive, "the paratrooper of love") of escorting the remains of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps from Dover to Dubois, Wyoming.
I was immensely moved, both glad and proud that we as a nation do this and that by the respect and gratitude shown by people along the way.
From The Epitaph Browser, Last Words
Before it's converted to a new format and a new link, here are some I like
All my possessions for a moment of time – Elizabeth 1 (1603)
So little done, so much to do – Cecil Rhodes 1902
I have a terrific pain in the back of my head - Franklin Roosevelt 1945
Please put out the light - Theodore Roosevelt 1919
I resign my spirit to God, my daughter to my country - Thomas Jefferson 1824
Strike the tent – Robert E Lee 1870
It is well. I die hard but I’m not afraid to go – George Washington 1799
The machinery is just worn out. I am ready - Woodrow Wilson 1924
Either that wallpaper goes, or I do – Oscar Wilde 1900
After I finally learned how to apply junk mail filters to my mailbox, I had to apply rules to a number of old emails. The following is from my brother Billy and I don't know where he got it from, so here are life lessons from an unknown source
Age 5 - I learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing "Silent Night".
Age 7 - I learned that our dog doesn't want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 9 - I learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back.
Age 12 - I learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again.
Age 14 - I learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.
Age 15 - I learned that although it's hard to admit it, I'm secretly glad my parents are strict with me.
Age 24 - I learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.
Age 26 - I learned that brushing my child's hair is one of life's great pleasures.
Age 29 - I learned that wherever I go, the world's worst drivers have followed me there.
Age 30 - I learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.
Age 42 - I learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don't know how to show it.
Age 44 - I learned that you can make some one's day by simply sending them a little note.
Age 46 - I learned that the greater a person's sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.
Age 47 - I learned that children and grandparents are natural allies
Age 48 - I learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
Age 49 - I learned that singing "Amazing Grace" can lift my spirits for hours.
Age 50 - I learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone.
Age 51 - I learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Age 52 - I learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.
Age 53 - I learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.
Age 58 - I learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.
Age 61 - I learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, work to improve your marriage.
Age 62 - I learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
Age 64 - I learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
Age 65 - I learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
Age 66 - I learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.
Age 72 - I learned that everyone can use a prayer.
Age 82 - I learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
Age 90 - I learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch-holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
Age 92 - I learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I learned that you should pass this on to someone you care about. Sometimes they just need a little something to make them smile.
John Byrne at the FCNow, the Fast Company weblog, posted his moving eulogy to his father who died a week ago.
Here's what he learned:
He learned that a cold beer on a hot day is one of life's greatest pleasures. ….He learned that you should fill your life with music. …He learned to be generous with himself and with his friends. …He was a man who knew what an honest day's work was and delivered it without complaint or failure -- ever. He learned to live life with optimism….He learned to live life, period. Do things. The more, the better. ….He learned that if you're on this earth, you better have fun…..
Here is how I measure my father's life….I measure his life in the warehouse of photographs, movies, and soundtracks he leaves. I measure it in the size of his hands….
Read the whole thing and marvel how a simple and modest man can teach a son how to live and love by just being. Rest in peace, Jack, JJ, Red Byrne.
Before radio or television or the Internet, a favorite New England pastime used to be collecting epitaphs from visits to cemeteries. Many are now collected at at The Epitaph Browser
Here's some of my favorites from cemeteries in Massachusetts
Emily Dickinson (West Cemetery, Amherst)
Anthony Drake (Burlington Churchyard
Tip O Neill (Harwich)
Mrs. Althea White (Lee)
Captain Eleazar Melvin(Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord)
He was a bold & intrepid Officer, a
Chearful Christian, beloved while living
and in death greatly lamented.
JOHN T. McMAHON (Vine Hill Cemetery, Plymouth)
Robert G Rogers (West Chop Cemetery, Vineyard Haven)
Ezekiel Pease (Nantucket)
Captain Artemas Wheeler (Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord)