Cheers to our "talented" literature prize awardee. Your pain his gain !!!
EGY.COM - LANDMARKS - CAIRO - HELIOPOLIS
Civil War Officer Honored in Egypt
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:36 p.m. ET November 6, 2000
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- For Erasmus Sparrow Purdy, a Civil War officer
whose career took him from the battlefields of Dixie to the depths of the
Nile Valley, recognition finally came Monday.
A New Yorker who served with distinction in the Union Army, Purdy
was one of 50 Civil War veterans hired by Egypt's ruler, Khedive Ismail,
in the 1870s to modernize his army and build an empire in East Africa.
By his death in 1881, he was the last remaining veteran and one of only a
few to be honored with the title of pasha -- the equivalent of Lord or
Some 40 Americans and a handful of Egyptians came to Purdy's grave
Monday in a leafy Anglican cemetery in Cairo's old Christian quarter to
dedicate a 10-foot-high obelisk of gray marble. A trumpeter played Taps
and a U.S. Marine honor guard dipped flags in respect.
The new tombstone, which replaced a withered marble slab, was
commissioned by several longtime American residents of Cairo who
hope it will serve as a monument not only to Purdy, but to all American
veterans and to American-Egyptian relations. It cost about $5,000.
``We regard Major Purdy as a pioneer in building American-Egyptian
military relations,'' said Maj. Gen. Robert Wilson, the highest ranking
U.S. military officer in Egypt.
U.S. Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer said Purdy's efforts to cement
American-Egyptian ties were ``something all of us are trying to do.''
By most accounts, Purdy and his colleagues -- most of them
Confederates -- came to Egypt not to sow friendship but to seek
adventure, fame and fortune.
He certainly found the first.
For the Khedive, Purdy traveled almost the length of the Nile river to
negotiate with tribal chiefs in Uganda. He explored the iron mines in
Kordofan and Darfur in western Sudan.
Purdy, a surveyor who had measured parts of California and Colorado,
also was sent to the southern Red Sea to map the route of a prospective
railway between the coast and the Sudanese interior.
``Purdy Pasha'' was known for his kindness. After a Sudanese servant
died, Purdy -- himself in debt at the time -- took care of the man's son
and paid for his schooling. When the boy fell fatally ill with tuberculosis,
Purdy provided for his medication and then for what he ordered to be ``a
Christian burial and a cross over his remains.''
In 1878, Purdy was decommissioned from the Egyptian military and
given a modest civilian job that he held until his death three years later.
Several of Purdy's fellow veterans died in battle or of disease, but most
returned to America after a falling-out with the Khedive during a failed
attempt to conquer Ethiopia in 1876.
Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company