Not that he's there, mind you. In those preflying times he would have had to pickled to have made it home in an acceptable state; no, what was left of him was buried somewhere close to the piece of Virginia where he was killed.
The marker is just his hometown's way of remembering him.
Turns out the Colonel was a bit of a celebrity in Victorian New York.
"As candidate for Congress on the same ticket as Abraham Lincoln, and colonel of one of the first volunteer cavalry regiments in the Union, Mix is justly regarded as “the greatest national character who ever came out of Schoharie county."Congressional hopeful, colonel of volunteers, national character; Simon discovered, as many before and since, that the bullet could give a shit.
You're just meat, and as meat into the ground you go; food for worms, brave Percy, one of the many who have seen an end to war.
I'd spent the morning and afternoon amongst the living, visiting my baby sister and her husband in their old schoolhouse outside the little clapped-out hill town of Sidney, New York, one of the many dying places where the need for human habitation has passed by and only habit and intransigence prevents the remnants from fleeing. The chill rain had scrubbed the little Memorial Day parade, and the disappointed would-be spectators took refuge inside the church for the chicken supper.
There's something about being served a half of a baked fowl out of a tinfoil-lined garbage can I can't quite put my finger on.
After saying farewell to my family I sailed back up the interstate to the town of Cobleskill, and from there down the steep, curving roads to the county seat in Schoharie, to the big burying ground outside the old colonial church to spend a moment with the other old soldiers there, the men young and old who had seen the elephant, as they called it back in old COL Mix's times.
I wanted to share a drink with them, and so it was probably appropriate that the only thing I could find at the stop-and-rob down the road that would serve as a libation was a nasty pound can of Yuengling lager. I can't imagine that the guys had anything better, and, I suspect, probably had much the worse during their wartime service.
I parked outside the church and strolled around the tower, beer in hand, listening to the drip of rain off the maples and the quiet hum of traffic from the village to the south. The only other human noise was the random clanking of the flag halyards back in front of the building as the wet cloth flapped sullenly in the cold May afternoon.
I poured old Simon a draft and shared it with him, him and all the boys there, and elsewhere, who had worn the uniform before me, blue and green and parti-colored, and had paid the highest price that shoddy, lowest-bidder uniform could cost.
I told him that he'd done good, that dying for the end of chattel slavery was a better cause than the excuse for any fight my nation had ever asked of me, and that I apologized for the quality of the drink I offered to his shade and those of the fellas around us.
Here's to us, I pledged him; who's like us? Damn few, and you're all dead.
And we stood together in silence, his marker and I, and listened to the calling of the mourning doves and the sound of the rain.