The Sunday Whirl,,  gave us an interesting mix for Wordle 29. I’ve written enough horror for a while, so I drew on history for this one, Now, I feel so old.

The words were: dappled, piercing, shell, air, strident, reignite, delirium, emit, pleat, pitch, swish, and seem.

by Mike Patrick

Albert Woolson wasn’t a hero;
nor did he pretend to be.
He didn’t orate grandly
of the high-pitched shrieks
artillery shells emitted
as they pierced the air of a dappled dawn.
He was a humble man—an honest man
who went to war but never found it.

Oh, he could be strident
when speaking for the Grand Army of the Republic
about the rights of Civil War veterans.
He had the right.
Although he never heard the swish of a sword,
experienced the pitch of battle,
or felt the delirium of war.
All the people he admired had—
his father had,
and it cost him his life.

Albert Woolson was a simple drummer boy,
wearing the blue-pleated uniform of the Union
while a sputtering war was winding down.
It never reignited.
He was discharged from service on Sept. 7, 1865,
without ever seeing battle—
but he lived to be 109.
He died August 2, 1956,
as the final Civil War veteran,
and was buried with full military honors.

The Civil War seems so long, long ago,
yet, I remember reading the articles when Woolson died.
Maybe some reading these words
will someday read another notice:
the death of the final Vietnam veteran.
I hope they will remember it
as an important event.

This entry was posted in A Wording Whirl of Sundays, Aging, Celebrity, Death, Elegy, Free Verse, Life, Old Times, Poetry, Un-rhyming, War, Warriors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. vivinfrance says:

    Mike thank you for your kind comment on my wordle poem on a similar theme to yours. I find war and fighting such a painful subject that while I know we should remember, and specifically remember and look after the survivors, I could not for the life of me click “like” for this – or any other poem which glorifies – even indirectly – war. That does not stop me admiring your poetic skill, and your ability to tell a good story.

  2. Nanka says:

    109 yrs is a long long time!! Must have been a lonely journey at the end!!

  3. Every person who serves no matter in which force and no matter what trade they are/were are all heros. From the cooks to the medics, to the engineers, they all allow us by what they do to keep our freedom. No war is ever right, but, I think unless we have our armed forces we would not enjoy that wonderful freedom as we know and do.
    This is poignant and what a long life this man lived. Having served in the (as was then) Women’s Royal Army Corps as a radar operator, I am so proud and grateful to all those who have served and all those who do, and all those who gave their lives for our freedom.
    Lovely, emotive piece from you Mike.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      You were a large part of the inspiration for this one. I always enjoy your weaving history into your poems. I wanted to write something this week that was as far away from last week’s Halloween theme as was possible. The wordle leaned toward war, but the brutality of war wasn’t what I wanted, I wanted something respectful.

  4. Paula says:

    A very nice homage.

  5. Mary says:

    Mike, I am so glad you wrote a tribute to Albert Woolson, the last veteran of the Civil War to pass away. I share your hope that someday the last Vietnam vet will be honored for his/her service as well. So many wars, so many veterans. Each worthy of being preserved in a poem!

  6. I love that you so beautifully immortalized a man who might otherwise be forgotten, never even heard of, Mr. Woolson. I am amazed that a Civil War veteran only just died, 109 years old. Beautiful poem, beautiful tribute.

  7. Irene says:

    Yea, a nice homage to not a hero. You wrote it in a very honorable way, about a war “veteran”. I heard a story of a man who went to war on his 17th birthday, was captured on the same day and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner-of-war.

  8. gerimomg says:

    What a wonderful tribute to the last veteran of The Civil War. I am no fan of war either, but serving your country when you believe you are doing the right thing is honorable and living to 109 is on two counts this man is worth honoring…and I loved the way you wrote it. I

  9. Interesting piece of history, well told, Mike. I hate war, but the history behind the Civil war is intriguing. I have used Ken Burn’s documentary as a teaching tool in my classes.


  10. Susannah says:

    You told this so well! What an excellent use of the wordle words.

  11. 1sojournal says:

    History is a second calling for me. This was a fascinating read and a great use of the wordle words to educate, and open minds.


  12. zumpoems says:

    Very reverent and appropriate appraoch! Nicely done!

  13. lee says:

    This is really lovely!!

  14. Mike, well done. And might I add to your comment about those who love war being fools – those who start wars have rarely, if ever, been in the line of fire themselves, nor do their progeny go to the front lines. I had a friend from Vietnam era, MIA for about 30 years, finally found his remains last year, and now he’s on the Wall. This brought up a lot of memories for me, as well as fresh resentment that we are not out of the new Vietnam, Afghanistan. Thanks for a challenging post, Mike. Amy

  15. Deftly done. A most moving read.

  16. Ah – Mike. That is moving. This year Britain has an Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday without a living veteran of the Great War. The last old man, Harry Patch, a lewis-gunner of The Duke of Cornwall’s regt. died last year (about112). He used to say: Why am I alive when my mates all went together in one shell blast? Right until the end he said he thought of them every day.

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