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“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” This is one of the most famous quotes of all time, spoken by General Douglas MacArthur. He was not dying but retiring from the army; still, these words hold great significance.

John Sedgwick is very well-known for his last words. He was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, and had served in the battle of Antietam. He was admired by his troops and fellow generals. At the battle of Spotsylvania Court House on May 9, 1864, Sedgwick was directing artillery placements to his corps under fire from Confederate Sharpshooters. Criticizing his men for dodging the deadly bullets, he rode out into the open and said: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” He was then shot dead. Boy, would I HATE to have those as my ironic last words!

I also find Alben W. Barkley’s last words to be very interesting. Barkley had been a Senator and a Senate Majority leader and even U.S. Vice-President to Harry Truman, and was very famous. In 1955, he was elected back into the Senate. On April 30, 1956, he delivered the keynote address at the Washington and Lee Mock Convention, closing with Psalm 84:10, a biblical verse, saying in regard to his Senate position: “I’m glad to sit in the back row, for I would rather be a servant in the House of the Lord than to sit in the seats of the mighty.” He then collapsed onstage and died of a heart attack.

Last Words are an interesting subject, because they are commonly associated with a final part of a person’s legacy. I would be careful about what you say…

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