Joe Hill was a union organizer, songwriter and a hero to working men and women in America. Before he was executed by firing squad in 1915 he wrote this poem.
- My will is easy to decide
- For there is nothing to divide
- My kin don’t need to fuss and moan
- “Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”
- My body? – Oh. – If I could choose
- I would to ashes it reduce
- And let the merry breezes blow
- My dust to where some flowers grow
- Perhaps some fading flower then
- Would come to life and bloom again
- This is my Last and final Will
- Good Luck to All of you
- Joe Hill
According to the AFL-CIO Web site about Hill, here’s what happened.
On Jan. 10, 1914, Hill knocked on the door of a Salt Lake City doctor at 11:30 p.m. asking to be treated for a gunshot wound he said was inflicted by an angry husband who had accused Hill of insulting his wife. Earlier that evening, in another part of town, a grocer and his son had been killed. One of the assailants was wounded in the chest by the younger victim before he died. Hill’s injury therefore tied him to the incident. The uncertain testimony of two eyewitnesses and the lack of any corroboration of Hill’s alibi convinced a local jury of Hill’s guilt, even though neither witness was able to identify Hill conclusively and the gun used in the murders was never recovered.
Many prominent people, including President Woodrow Wilson tried to get Hill’s sentence commuted, or a pardon, or something, but the Utah Supreme Court would hear none of that. And so on Nov. 19, 1915, Joe Hill was executed by firing squad for a crime he probably didn’t commit. Perhaps he really was “a little too active to suit the chief of the burg.”