Source: Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “A Tribute to the Dead”
City of publication: Boston, Massachusetts
Date of publication: 28 September 1901
Volume number: 61
Issue number: 1
|“A Tribute to the Dead.” Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture 28 Sept. 1901 v61n1: p. 4.|
|William McKinley (death: personal response).|
A Tribute to the Dead
The end has come so far as death
can put a period to any great life. The end has not come in that a fine life
leaves behind it a far-reaching influence. While it may be thought for the moment
that President McKinley’s death one week ago would have been a less tremendous
shock to the American people, that one week has given, as no other combination
of circumstances could have done, an actual impulse toward nobility reaching
into every State in the Union and into every home. The wrath, the indignation,
the grief of a great nation deprived of its ruler by the act of an assassin
has become something much higher and finer, the mourning of men for a man.
This fact, for the moment, is before all others. It unifies the whole nation as a death in a family reconciles the inevitable cleavages in even the smallest circle of intimates. Even in the darkness of present sorrow it surrounds as with a white light the figure of the soldier, statesman, President, and, first and always, the citizen, who fought his last battle with gentle fortitude, and has now closed his eyes in everlasting dignity. “It’s God’s way,” he said, “His will be done.”
The example of such a death, brought thus intimately into the lives of millions of people, is more than a sermon. It is a great fact illustrative of the noble possibilities of human life, an idea which can hardly fail to enter into the daily existence of many of those who have so vividly seen its reality, and to make their daily existence better by so much as their own natures can absorb of it. Men must inevitably differ in their opinions, their creeds, their attitudes toward practical problems, but manhood is a standard quality. The millions rarely see it so splendidly typified as in the close of a life that met its end in simple, manly dignity without fear and without reproach.
It is pleasant to think also, after the heavy work and responsibilities of the year just past, that the heart of the nation weeps, not for a ruler so much as for a citizen; that in his last hours there came to President McKinley a tribute of love and respect, wholly deserved, yet only possible when his last splendid struggle had made his true self pre-eminent.