The Dying Colonel And The Flag
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE old colonel lay upon his bed, and around gathered his sorrowing family. He was well stricken in years, and his days were numbered, and the mind was now engaged in following the backward tract of an eventful life, and apparently oblivious of the present sad surroundings. From his youth up, his best services had been freely given to his country, and under her flag he had seen many climes and stood on many battlefields. That lowered shoulder was shattered by a shell at the storming of Monterey, and the lameness of his later years was the work of a minnie ball at Gettysburg. But he had fought his last fight now, and to him had come that inevitable hour which awaits all men.
l'or several hours the colonel had thus lain silent and in a stupor, but as the declining sun sent its rays within the chamber window, the veteran aroused himself, and knew that the end was near. But he had looked upon death face to face too often in the past to fear him now, and it was in steady tones he asked to have the servants brought to him. When they had come, he addressed each one by name, and bid them all good-bye, with kindly words mixed with proper admonition. Then he asked for his favorite dog, who being brought, the veteran gently patted, while he murmured a farewell. Next he spoke brave words of cheer to his weeping family, and then clasped in a fond and last embrace the loving wife of his youth, who had so faithfully shared with him both good and evil fortune during all the years gone by. The old man was very feeble now, for the sands of life were running fast, and with faltering voice he called for his country's flag.
Reverently the eldest son brought forth the banner, and tenderly laid it across his father's breast, who with difficulty raised one of its silken folds to his lips and kissed it gently ; then, looking upward with a smile upon his face, the old regular passed from earth.
The love which this aged warrior showed for the dear old flag in his life and in his death, is that which made the foundation and perpetuity of this commonwealth possible. The beautiful picture of the Stars and Stripes upon the dying man's bosom, receiving the last kiss and the last earthly farewell, ought to inspire the living with an increased love for and support of our free institutions.