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Epitaph Index
Epitaphs: M-Z
Magee, John Gillespie, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

John Magee was an 18-year old American who crossed the border to join the Canadian Air Force and participate in World War II.  He rose to the rank of Pilot Officer and flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.  Shortly before his death in a collision with another plane, he sent his parents, who lived in Washington DC, a short poem he had written about flying titled "High Flight."  His parents shared the verse with Archibald MacLeish, then the Librarian of Congress, who was so impressed that he included it an exhibition of poems, "Faith and Freedom," in 1942, and its popularity was instantaneous and overwhelming. His epitaph includes the first and last lines of the poem.

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Maris, Roger Eugene
Against All Odds

Roger Maris was trade to the New York Yankees in 1959, and the following year he led the league in slugging, rbi's, extra base hits, and total bases.  He also won a Gold Glove and was named the American League's Most Valuable Player.  Still, the New York fans and press couldn't stand him, and his midwestern attitude.  The following year he and Mickey Mantle both attacked Babe Ruth's long standing record of 60 home runs in a season.  The press and fans openly routed against Maris and for Mantle.  When Mantle went down with a leg injury, the New York fans and sportswriters continued to hope that Maris would not eclipse the Bambino's total.  Throughout the ordeal, Roger maintained his cool and silence, which seemed to further infuriate his detractors.  He broke the record on the last day of the season before only a few thousand fans in Yankee Stadium.
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Marx, Karl

Workers of all lands unite. The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. 

When Marx died in 1883 and was buried in a non-descript grave, only eleven people attended his funeral.  It wasn't until 1970 at the height of Soviet imperialism that the Communist Party of Great Britain erected a monument at the London site, which included the last words of his Communist Manifesto.  Today, with the collapse of Communism and complete revelation of its inherent flaws, his short-lived Marxist and Marxian economic, political, and social theories lie discredited except for within the leftist bastions of academe.  So the questions are, should anyone care about Marx or his ideas today, and should anyone bother to read his tedious works?  Perhaps.

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Mencken, H. L.

If after I depart this vale you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner, and wink your eye at some homely girl.
Mencken suggested this epitaph in "The Smart Set."  After his death, it was inscribed on a plaque in the lobby of The Baltimore Sun.

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Osiris, King of the North and South,
Men-Kaur-Ra, Living for ever!
The heavens have produced thee
Thou wert engendered by NUT [the sky]
Thou are the offspring of SEB [the earth]
Thy mother NUT spreads herself over thee
In her form as a divine mystery.
She has granted thee to be a god.
Thou shalt never more have enemies,
O King of the north and south,
Living for ever! 

Menkaura was the pharaoh who built the third, and smallest, pyramid at Giza.

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Murphy, Audie

PH & 2 OLC

Audie Murphy was the most decorated serviceman of World War II.  Following the war, he became a successful movie star, country-western singer, and rancher.  His best movies were The Red Badge of Courage and To Hell and Back, a movie retelling of his war experience.

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Nichols, Mary Ann "Polly"

Victim of
"Jack the Ripper" 

Poly Nichols was Jack the Ripper's first confirmed victim.  She was found early in the morning in front of a gate stable in Whitechapel, approximately two hundred yards from London Hospital.

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Norton, Joshua A.

Of the United States
Protector of Mexico

Joshua Norton was an eccentric or possibly insane resident of San Francisco, who declared himself Emperor of the United States in 1859.   He was humored by citizens of the city, who even issued money in his name for use at the establishments he frequented.  He had a propensity for issuing grand proclamation, such has his decree that Congress be disbanded by force.  Mark Twain allegedly based his Huckleberry Finn character, The King, on Emperor Norton.

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Paige, Leroy "Satchel"

How to Stay Young

1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

3. Keep the juices flowing by
jangling around gently as
you move.

4. Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in Society.  The social ramble ain't restful.

5. Avoid running at all times.

6. Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you.

Satchel Paige was one of the best baseball pitchers of all time. He played professional or semi-pro ball for over for over 33 years, his best seasons being with the Kansas City Monarchs of the old Negro League.  Paige claimed to have mastered 13 different, highly unusual pitches including the Hesitation Pitch (which was eventually ruled illegal), the Bat Dodger, the 4-Day Creeper, the Bee Ball, and the Two Hump Blooper.

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Parker, Bonnie

As the flowers are all made sweeter
by the sunshine and the dew,
So this old world is made brighter
by the lives
Of folks like you

Eighteen-year old Bonnie Parker deserted her husband in 1929 and  joined up with with a recently released convict, Clyde Barrow.  Together, along with Clydes brother and a few other gang members, they began a murderous crime spree throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, and Louisiana that would last until they were killed in an ambush by police.  During that time, the gang, armed with Browning Automatic Rifles, robbed at least ten banks and probably ten times that many small stores and gas station, murdering approximately twenty people, including ten police officers in the process.

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Pinkerton, Allan

A friend to honesty and a foe to crime

Allan Pinkerton and a Chicago lawyer formed the country's first detective agency in the 1850s and developed investigative techniques including undercover work and shadowing that allowed them to solve a series of train robberies that had received national attention.  With the onset of the Civil War, Lincoln requested that he head the Union's intelligence service.  Pinkerton agreed and prevented at least on assassination attempt on the president.  His agents worked undercover as Confederate soldiers throughout the South and masqueraded as Confederate sympathizers in the North.  Following the war, Pinkerton returned to his lucrative business of catching train robbers and his undercover agents eventually played a major role in uncovering the terrorist activities of the Mollie Maguires and other anarchic labor organizations.  Pinkerton died of of an infection in 1884, the result of biting his tongue following a fall.

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Poe, Edgar Allan

Quoth the Raven,

Poe was, of course, one of the preeminent American Romantic writers.  Best known for his poetry and macabre short stories, he is also credited with inventing detective and crime fiction. 

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Pusser, Buford H.

He Walked Tall

Buford Pusser was a legendary Tennessee sheriff who despite repeated violent attacks, including one that killed his wife, used his wooden club to clean-up the the organized crime in McNairy County that had been long sanctioned by the local Democratic political machine.

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Rich, Buddy

One of a kind.
The abrasively obnoxious and occasionally humorous self-
proclaimed "World's Greatest Drummer" began playing drums in vaudeville at 18 months of age and starting in 1937 performed in jazz and big bands for fifty years until his death in 1987 during a heart operation.

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Rogers, Will

If You Live Life Right
Death is a Joke
As Far as Fear is Concerned

When Will Rogers died in a plane crash with Wiley Post in 1935, he was the most read newpaper columnist in America, hosted the most listened to radio show in America, and was the number one male box office star in America.

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Ruth, George Herman "Babe"

That Divine Spirit
That Animated
to Win the Crucial
Game of Life
Inspire the Youth
of America

Babe Ruth, named the Greatest Baseball Player during major league baseball's centennial celebration, died from cancer in 1948, shortly after he attended the premier showing of The Babe Ruth Story in which he was portrayed by William Bendix.  John Cardinal Spellman wrote Ruth's epitaph.

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Shakespeare, William

Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust encloased heare!
Blest be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones. 

Shakespeare is buried at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.  It is said that he personally composed his epitaph.

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Spector's Father, Phil

To Know Him is to Love Him

Phil Spector was one of the most creative and influential rock 'n roll producers during the early sixties.  He created the "Wall of Sound" and was the principal orginator of "girl groups."  He started on his career in 1958 by forming a high school recording group "The Teddy Bears."  The group's second recording sky-rocketed to #1 on the Billboard Chart.  Its title, "To Know Him is to Love Him," was taken from the epitaph on the gravestone of Spector's father.

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Starr, Myra Maybelle Shirley "Belle"

Shed not for her the bitter tear
Nor give the heart to vain regret
Tis but the casket that lies here
The gem that filled it sparkles yet
According to legend,the Bandit Queen Belle Starr had been a spy, a Confederate General, the brains behind many outlaw gang, and the consort of nearly every western badman including all of the Younger Brothers.  In 1889, she was killed by a shotgun blast while horseback riding.  Although there were multiple suspects including both of her children, the killer was never identified

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Swift, Dr. Jonathan

Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift,
Professor of Holy Theology, for thirty 
years Dean of this cathedral church,
where savage indignation can tear his
heart no more.  Go, traveller, and if you
can, imitate one who with his utmost
strength protected liberty.  He died in the year 1745, on the 19th of October, 
aged seventy-eight

No doubt, Swift has been the most stingingly effective political satirist ever to write in English, and as such he developed.  Swift lived in fear that he become mentally unstable, once remarking to a friend while viewing a tree whose crown had whithered, "I shall be like that tree, I shall die from the top."  He suffered a stroke in 1742 that left him unable to speak.  His friends, fearful that he would be cheated out of his savings, had Swift declared "unsound in mind and memory," in order to protect his fortune.  When Swift died several years later, the bulk of his money was used to found a hospital for the mentally ill. 

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Unknown U.S. Soldier

Here Rests in
Honored Glory
An American
Known But to God

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Williams, Hiram "Hank" King

Thank you for all the love you gave me.
There could be no one stronger.
Thank you for the many beautiful songs.
They will live long and longer.

Hank William's long-time addiction to alcohol and morphine caught up with him on a cold winter night somewhere between Knoxville, Tennessee and Canton, Ohio.  Williams, who had recently been fired from the Grand Ol' Opry because of his drug and alcohol abuse, was scheduled to perform a show in Canton.  He climbed into the back of his limosine, having already loaded up on morphine.  When the chauffeur pulled over for gas, he found Williams dead in the back seat along with a few empty beer cans and the lyrics to an unfinished song, "Then Came That Fateful Day."

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Wilson, Samuel "Uncle Sam"

In Loving Memory 

On 15 September 1961, Samuel Wilson, an early 19th century meatpacker, was  officially recognized by Congress as the namesake of Uncle Sam, "Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson of Troy, New York, as the progenitor of America's National symbol of Uncle Sam."  Sam Wilson provided meat to U.S. soldiers stationed in upper New York during the War of 1812 in barrels stamped with the U.S.  The soldiers, in turn, began to jokingly refer to the shipments as gifts from their Uncle Sam.

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Woolf, Virginia

Against you I will fling myself,
unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!

Woolf is regarded as one of the best of the modernist authors.  Plagued throughout her life by severe mood swings, whe committed suicide in 1941 by loading her pockets full of stones and wading into a river near her home.

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Wren, Sir Christopher


Christopher Wren was the greatest architect of his time, designing the Royal Observatory, the Great Fire Monument, the library at Trinity College, and his most spectacular work, St. Paul's Cathedral, where he was buried following his death in 1723.

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