Finding Something Friday Before the Fourth

I love alliteration, especially in my blog posts titles. I also love books. And I’m really quite fond of old tombstones and epitaphs. So, I suppose today is all about “Things I Love.” I love the Fourth of July, too. But I’ll get to that in just a tick.

I found Susan K. Hom’s delightfully edited little book, R.I.P. Here Lie the Last Words, Morbid Musings, Epitaphs & Fond Farewells of the Famous and Not-So-Famous, in a local bookstore, on the “Ridiculously Marked Down” table. I also love a good deal, so I can never pass by this table without finding something. And since this ever-so-cheap little book combined several things I love (a good deal, books, and cemetery stuff), I plunked out my pennies and dug in for some deep reading (Okay, I’m kinda fond of puns, too).

Did you know that writer Noel Coward’s epitaph reads, “A Talent to Amuse”? Or that writer George S. Kaufman’s tombstone is inscribed, “Over My Dead Body”? My favorite writer epitaph, though, belongs to Billy Wilder: “I’m a Writer but then Nobody’s Perfect.”

Funny stuff, true, but poignant entries, too. In the Famous Leaders and Historical Figures section, I came across the inscription on the Lincoln Memorial: IN THIS TEMPLE, AS IN THE HEART OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION, THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.

I also found Samuel Adam’s epitaph. For those of you who think of beer when his name is mentioned, you might be interested to know that he was, first and foremost, a political leader in Boston, leading up to the American Revolution. He wrote newspaper articles and essays, rallying the colonists against the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act. You remember that “no taxation without representation” line? Old Samuel was all about that sentiment. Here’s his epitaph: “Here Lies Buried Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of this Commonwealth, A Leader of Men and an ardent Patriot.”

So, when you celebrate this weekend, think of Samuel Adams and all the patriots through the ages, who gave of themselves so that you could enjoy this fine, freedom-ringing, flag-waving, fireworks-glowing nation I love.

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