Today was the funeral of a man I never knew or even met. But I know he stood for the best things in American life. For the power of ideals in action. For youth in its strength bringing timeless virtues forward.
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd is a poem about grief for another son of Illinois, another Great Soul we could ill afford to lose. I offer two last parts of the poem, dedicated to Officer Wortham and to his parents and other loved ones, who shoulder on with new burdens on this earth.
. . . . .
And the white skeletons of young men--I saw them;
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war;
But I saw they were not as was thought;
They themselves were fully at rest--they suffer'd not;
The living remain'd and suffer'd--the mother suffer'd,
And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer'd,
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.
Yet each I keep, the retrievements out of the night;
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of woe,
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor;
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep--for the dead I loved so well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands . . . and this for his dear sake;
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.
My previous obituary for Officer Thomas Wortham IV is here.
Second City Cop has a short review of the service entitled
May the Work That I've Done Speak For Itself