The American: A Man's Life
What happened to him the thirteen years after he disappeared to go west, before his casket brought him back to Cincinnati on the train?
He had not found a settled life, or even what he was looking for, not even by the time he was fifty five in 1887. He saw the worst of it and it affected the rest of his life.
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Men had talked to him about glory. He had heard about it and dreamed about it when he had gone to be a soldier. Ever since man held a spear and fashioned a sharp-edged weapon, he longed for glory. Homer wrote of it epically and he read it. He believed in it but learned that glory is a false God in the end.
Those years he was a man in the Gilded Age but not of it. Others were making fortunes by nefarious means. He was still trying to sort out the troubled past – to make what meaning he could out of it and get by.
America had disappointed him and there was little source of solace. The great men he had known, or known of, had made his country as bad as they had good. For many it looked like America wasn’t a country; it was a business.
He was a man of little import in the greater scheme of things – a man of great courage and heart who cared for his fellow beings and made what little difference he could. He was a man of his time who tells us his story in the first person voice. He saw, thought, felt, believed what he experienced as it affected him and his country.
He was an American.