At Catholic Cemetery on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, his gravesite is easy to spot. It is marked by a stark white marble cross and slab lying underneath a flying Christian flag.
But it was another flag – the flag of the Confederacy – that helped make a name for Father Abram Joseph Ryan, the “poet-priest of the South” who considered Mobile home enough to want to be buried here.
In a Tennessee rectory just after the South surrendered, the Catholic priest wrote an epitaph for a fallen nation called “The Conquered Banner.” At one point in time, it was required reading for schoolchildren.
In part, it says:
*“Furl that Banner, for ‘tis weary;
Round its staff ‘tis drooping dreary;
Furl it, fold it, it is best:
For there’s not a man to wave it,
And there’s not a sword to save it,
And there’s not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it;
And its foes now scorn and brave it;
Furl it, hide it – let it rest.”
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* One of the many poems I recited in front of the UDC at the Baptist Church in Marshall, Virginia as a child. "I'm A Good Old Rebel."