Wednesday, February 6, 2008

sad story

my sister forwards an email to me that she gets from her neighbor who gets it from their husband (or some close relation) who is on duty in iraq. he drives a bus. that's about all i know. anyway, nearly every day there's a thoughtful detailed email that comes to me that really makes the war more real and personal. the guy is a good writer and i can't help but sometimes wonder if he knows and is consciously writing for a larger audience than just his family. anyway, today's email from him contained the story of a memorial service that happened for some soldiers he knew. he decided to also give the back story on "taps." i didn't know it so i figure it's worth sharing. maybe you all will be interested in it. here it is as recounted in the email from the random bus driver serving in iraq:

Taps was played for the first time during the Civil War, in 1862. Captain Robert Ellicombe and his men were fighting the Confederates at Harris' Landing in Virginia. As darkness fell across the field, Captain Ellicombe could hear the moans of a single mortally wounded soldier who lay somewhere in the night. Unaware as to whether the soldier was Union or Confederate, the captain crawled on his belly through the brush and the gunfire until he reached the dying soldier. He pulled the soldier back through the smoky haze of the battle until he reached his own camp. Then, holding a lantern, he was horrified to find that the dead Confederate soldier was his own son! The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Grief stricken, Captain Ellicombe asked that his son be given a funeral with full military honors, even though he was a Confederate soldier. The request was only partially granted, and Captain Ellicombe was told that he could not have a military band, but could have a single musician play a funeral dirge. He chose a bugler to play the handwritten tune that he had found in his son's pocket. It was the haunting melody that we've come to know at all military funerals, as well as at the lowering of the flag each evening.

"Day is done,
Gone the sun,
From the lakes,
From the hills,
From the sky.
All is well.
Safely rest.
God is nigh."

1 comment:

Hyo said...

That was such a touching story, thank you for sharing it.