The Restored Burlington Northern Depot
& World War II Memorial Museum
From History of Montgomery County, Iowa, 1881,
Des Moines, Iowa Historical and Biographical Company:
“Histories in the past have dawdled and dribbled and
slopped over with meaningless details of what was
thought, said and done or not done by kings and courtiers
in regard to the pending armed conflicts of their time;
but the uprising in this county and State, and the sister
States under the National banner, had a profounder
depth of solid conviction and earnest purpose than the
accident-of-birth rulers of other lands ever dreamed of.
Every father and mother who gave a son; the wife who
gave a husband; the maiden who gave a lover; they, too,
went down into the bloody conflict with hearts bleeding
for their country, even though their bodies remained
Theirs was not a selfish devotion for any sinister or narrow
greed, but a devotion worthily Christlike in the broad
outreach of its faithfulness to the rights of humanity, the
cause of human progress, the vindication of free republican
government, the integrity of the National Union.
The pitying eye of God alone and his holy angels will single
out and commemorate the graves of those
‘Who bore not arms, but full as bravely bled,
And felt the rack anguish of the strife,’
when the annual solemnities of Decoration Day are making
green and hallowed the graves of our patriot dead.
Although the children of Montgomery county cannot read
what was said and done by the people of the county who
did not enlist, let them be constantly reminded of the great
debt of living gratitude which they owe, both to the men
who went forth to the battle, and to them who kept the
National faith steadfast at home.
Let the dear children be taught the true and righteous
nobleness of patriotic devotion, and be themselves always
ready, like those who fill the nation’s honored graves to-day,
to make personal sacrifice for the good of mankind, the
triumph of right and the integrity of the Nation.”
More Cruel Than War by W. S. Hawkins
American War between the States,
a Southern prisoner at Camp Chase in Ohio lay
sick in the hospital. He confided to a friend,
Colonel Hawkins, that he was grieving because
his fiancée, a Nashville, Tennessee girl,
had not written to him.
soldier died soon afterward.
Colonel W. S.
promised to open
and answer any mail that came for him.
This poem is
in reply to a letter from his
fiancée, in which she curtly broke the engagement:
lady, came too
For heaven had claimed its own;
Ah, sudden change—from prison bars
Unto the great white throne;
And yet I think he would have stayed,
To live for his disdain,
Could he have read the careless words
Which you have sent in vain.
So full of
patience did he
Through many a weary hour,
That o'er his simple soldier-faith
Not even death had power;
And you—did others whisper low
Their homage in your ear,
As though among their shallow throng
His spirit had a peer?
I would that
you were by me
To draw the sheet aside
And see how pure the look he wore
The moment when he died.
The sorrow that you gave to him
Had left its weary trace,
As 'twere the shadow of the cross
Upon his pallid face.
"Her love," he said, "could change for me
The winter's cold to spring."
Ah, trust of fickle maiden's love,
Thou art a bitter thing!
For when these valleys, bright in May,
Once more with blossoms wave,
The northern violets shall blow
Above his humble grave.
Your dole of
scanty words had
But one more pang to bear
For him who kissed unto the last
Your tress of golden hair;
I did not put it where he said,
For when the angels come,
I would not have them find the sign
Of falsehood in the tomb.
I've read your letter, and I know
The wiles that you have wrought
To win that trusting heart of his,
And gained it—cruel thought!
What lavish wealth men sometimes give
For what is worthless all
What manly bosoms beat for them
In folly's falsest thrall!
You shall not pity him, for now
His sorrow has an end;
Yet would that you could stand with me
Beside my fallen friend!
And I forgive you for his sake,
As he—if he be forgiven—
May e'en be pleading grace for you
Before the court of Heaven.
As I my vigil keep
Within the prison dead-house, where
Few mourners come to weep.
A rude plank coffin holds his form;
Yet death exalts his face,
And I would rather see him thus
Than clasped in your embrace.
To-night your home may shine with light
And ring with merry song,
And you be smiling as your soul
Had done no deadly wrong;
Your hand so fair that none would think
It penned these words of pain;
Your skin so white—would God your heart
Were half as free from stain.
I'd rather be
my comrade dead
Than you in life supreme;
For yours the sinner's waking dread,
And his the martyr's dream!
Whom serve we in this life we serve
In that which is to come;
He chose his way, you—yours; let God
Pronounce the fitting doom.