Billy Higgins had the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet. He was a Policeman - an Area 2 Homicide Detective - and a true civil servant. Shortly upon his retirement, Billy's great heart went quiet and his soul returned to Christ.
Billy Higgins died reading at his kitchen table, but had lived kicking down doors behind which armed enemies of civilization cowered from the Truth. They were our monsters - murderers. Billy and his partner Marty Tully brought these cowards to face the laws they violated - if not to Justice.
One of Billy's favorite poems that he had learned as little boy in St. Sabina's ( Cook Elementary School) parish was about the Irish Brigade of France.
Like most heroic poetry that has gone out of fashion in our tiny-hearted culture, the themes of Sacrifice, Honor, Fidelity, Gallantry and Courtesy became the foundation for a life of service to Policemen, Fireman, Soldiers, Sailors and all who labor to protect us.
BATTLE OF FONTENOY
by: Bartholomew Dowling (1823-1863)
BY our camp-fires rose a murmur
At the dawning of the day,
And the tread of many footsteps
Spoke the advent of the fray;
And as we took our places,
Few and stern were our words,
While some were tightening horse-girths,
And some were girding swords.
The trumpet-blast has sounded
Our footmen to array--
The willing steed has bounded,
Impatient for the fray--
The green flag is unfolded,
While rose the cry of joy--
"Heaven speed dear Ireland's banner
To-day at Fontenoy!"
We looked upon that banner,
And the memory arose
Of our homes and perish'd kindred
Where the Lee or Shannon flows;
We look'd upon that banner,
And we swore to God on high,
To smite to-day the Saxon's might--
To conquer or to die.
Loud swells the charging trumpet--
'Tis a voice from our own land--
God of battles! God of vengeance!
Guide to-day the patriot's brand;
There are stains to wash away,
There are memories to destroy,
In the best blood of the Briton
To-day at Fontenoy.
Plunge deep the fiery rowels
In a thousand reeking flanks--
Down, chivalry of Ireland,
Down on the British ranks!
Now shall their serried columns
Beneath our sabres reel--
Through the ranks, then, with the war-horse--
Through their bosoms with the steel.
With one shout for good King Louis,
And the fair land of the vine,
Like the wrathful Alpine tempest,
We swept upon their line--
Then rang along the battle-field
Triumphant our hurrah,
And we smote them down, still cheering,
"Erin, shanthagal go bragh."
As prized as is the blessing
From an aged father's lip--
As welcome as the haven
To the tempest-driven ship--
As dear as to the lover
The smile of gentle maid--
Is this day of long-sought vengeance
To the swords of the Brigade.
See their shatter'd forces flying,
A broken, routed line--
See, England, what brave laurels
For your brow to-day we twine.
Oh, thrice bless'd the hour that witness'd
The Briton turn to flee
From the chivalry of Erin
And France's "fleur de lis."
As we lay beside our camp-fires,
When the sun had pass'd away,
And thought upon our brethren
Who had perished in the fray,
We prayed to God to grant us,
And then we'd die with joy,
One day upon our own dear land
Like this of Fontenoy.
"Battle of Fontenoy" is reprinted from Historic Poems and Ballads. Ed. Rupert S. Holland. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1912.