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By Richard A. Serrano

Richard Serrano, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times, pens a narrative of 2 veterans. within the past due Nineteen Fifties, as the USA ready for the Civil warfare centennial, very outdated males lay loss of life. Albert Woolson, 109 years outdated, slipped out and in of a coma at a Duluth, Minnesota, health center, his stories as a Yankee drummer boy slowly dimming. Walter Williams, at 117 blind and deaf and bedridden in his daughter's domestic in Houston, Texas, now not may possibly inform of his time as a accomplice forage grasp. The final of the Blue and the grey have been drifting away; an period was once finishing.

Unknown to the general public, centennial officers, and the White condominium too, this sort of males used to be certainly a veteran of that terrible clash and one based on the simplest facts not anything yet a fraud. One used to be a soldier. the opposite have been residing an excellent, massive lie.

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I feel the Russian plenty will be against it. ” strength, he acknowledged, “is depraved. If we wish to maintain peace, the way we will be able to do it's to be powerful. ” He intended “tough,” as in what he had obvious in his conflict. “All of our younger males may still study strict army self-discipline and to obey orders. they need to discover ways to interact in unison. a quick interval of army education is sweet for the boy. ” February 1955 introduced one other avalanche of playing cards and letters. President Eisenhower wrote to Woolson that “people all through the USA regard with honor the courageous males on both sides of the clash during which you served approximately a century in the past. ” The outdated soldier was once 108, and the years have been exhibiting on his brittle body. He commonly refrained from the crowds now. He may well not shovel the sidewalk. as an alternative he spent many a day at the entrance porch. “Checking the weather,” he acknowledged, bundled up opposed to the chilly. For some time he alternated among cigars and a pipe. He watched tv a piece yet might purely wager at what the actors and newsmen could be announcing. He now not had any phrases of knowledge for a contemporary global. “I’m no authority,” he stated. yet he did enterprise to urban corridor and the rotunda for the install of the hot Woolson bust. He provided just a couple of phrases in thank you, spoken slowly to the three hundred amassed round his chair up entrance. “I wish my profession has been an instance for the more youthful generation,” he acknowledged. For a number of days he posed at domestic for Fairbanks the sculptor, busy at paintings at the Gettysburg statue. occasionally Woolson spoke to the artist, usually in a noisy voice, approximately Lincoln and furnish and the grand previous days whilst the Union gained the warfare. occasionally he requested questions, and the artist jotted down solutions together with his heavy grease pencil on a wide capsule. different occasions Woolson simply sang to himself, frequently the sentimental 1840s ballad “Ben Bolt. ” Grass grows at the master’s grave, Ben Bolt, The spring of the brook is dry, And of all of the boys who have been schoolmates then There are just you and that i. weeks after his birthday, he was once hospitalized with lung congestion. medical professionals frowned that he nonetheless smoked 8 cigars and loved his part ounce of brandy on a daily basis, and believed this new flare-up was once just like his previous assault of bronchitis. yet Woolson rallied, and so they despatched him domestic inside weeks. There he remained as Memorial Day 1955 arrived, and he made up our minds to sit down out the fuss of parades and tributes. He did ship greetings to the 3 residing accomplice infantrymen within the South—in Florida, Virginia, and Texas. “They fought for what they believed in and that i fought for what i assumed in,” he acknowledged. “God bless you all, from a Yankee. ” yet Woolson was once no longer thoroughly housebound. On Saturdays he rose early along with his kinfolk and rode out to a lake cottage an hour away. His urge for food remained robust, his perspective more advantageous. the realm faculties despatched huge bouquets of plants, and he extremely joyful of their good looks. All in all, mentioned his daughter, “he’s feeling excellent. ” In June he was once again at St. Luke’s. He used to be positioned below an oxygen tent to ease the congestion, and finally he got here domestic back and lower back to his cigars.

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