And I see not in my blindness
What the objects were I wrought,
But as God rules o’er our bickerings
It was through His will I fought.
George S. Patton, Jr.
Fate denied General Patton the death he deserved: in battle, at the head of his men. His death was much more prosaic, the result of an automobile collision on December 8, 1945 caused by drunk joyriding GIs. He spent most of the next 13 days in traction, paralyzed from the neck down. His verdict on his situation was succinct and characteristically blunt: “This is a hell of a way to die.” He died on December 21, 1945 in his sleep. It is perhaps superfluous to note that Patton met death with calm courage. At West Point as a cadet he had already discerned the essential reality of death: “What then of death? Is not the taps of death but the first call to the reveille of eternal life?” Per his request he was buried with other Third Army dead in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, the simple white cross above his grave precisely the same that marked the graves of the Christian GIs who had fallen in what Eisenhower had aptly called the Great Crusade.