Friday, 22 July 2016

The Last One To Die

Private George Lawrence Price was the last soldier of the British Empire to be killed in World War 1, a Canadian born in Nova Scotia and conscripted, forced to go to war. He was shot by a German sniper at 10:58 on November 11, 1918, a mere two minutes before the armistice went into effect.

On August 18, 1945, U.S. Army Sergeant Anthony J. Marchione died during a reconnaissance flight over Tokyo. Marchione actually died two weeks after the Japanese had accepted the Allied terms of surrender, but two weeks before the formal cessation of hostilities. He was the last American killed in air combat in World War II.

Charles McMahon and Darwin Lee Judge were the last two US soldiers killed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The two men, both U.S. Marines, were killed in a rocket attack one day before the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, an event that marked the end of the Vietnam War.

History records, time and again, the names of those who were the first to die, and the last to die, in the innumerable wars which have plagued the history of mankind. History also fails to record so many who died in between. Only in recent history, perhaps in the last 200 years, have we posted memorials to the lost, noting the time and date of their demise. There are even more who lived in died in wars past whose names are recorded nowhere, who remain unknown.

I am a soldier in a war, a war which claims casualties every day. Their passing is not marked by any form of memorial, by any form of celebration or remembrance. They are those lost to ALS, a disease with no cure and no treatment, a disease which claims its victims relentlessly, without compassion or cause.

There was a first person and a last person to die from AIDS, at least here in North America. There will be a last person to die from ALS, perhaps worldwide. One day there will be a treatment. One day there will be a cure. Like polio or whooping cough or tuberculosis, one day there will be simple treatments to prevent death or to prevent the disease altogether.

I do not wish to be that person. I want to be the first person cured of ALS. One of the reasons I am so reluctant to leave this life is that I keep hoping, all the while knowing that there is a very real chance that I might be the last person to die from ALS. With my luck, the day after I take the pills and go to sleep forever, some pharmaceutical company will announce a successful treatment, followed soon thereafter by an announcement of a cure. I sure as hell hope it works out better than that for me. I am not all that hopeful, yet I still hope.


  1. Happy 61st Birthday Richard!
    If you haven't already done so, you might read "Pascal's Wager", and also "Bishop Anselm's Ontological Proof of the Existence of God". They may not convince you, but they will amuse you with their cleverness!
    ALS SUCKS, but life is sweet!

  2. I know of Pascal's Wager. I've never been a fan of Anselm, but I'll take a look.

  3. I hear ya brother. Despite having my last string of hope shredded with the recent news that I was a faster progression, I still keep thinking with my luck the day after I say "enough", the announcement will come. XO

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  5. Hi Richard. I'm enjoying reading your blog, will start following you on facebook soon. I cannot believe in this day and age we do not have a cure for als. It sickens me. We need another ibc let's keep throwing the money at them, surely these geniuses can work something out. Mary from australia.