Good morning, it's Thursday, June 24, 2021, another lovely weather day on the East Coast. On this date 179 years ago, Marcus Aurelius Bierce and his wife, Laura Sherwood Bierce, welcomed the 10th of their 13 children into the world. For some reason, the Bierces gave all of their children names beginning with the letter "A." The one whose birthday we observe today, Ambrose Bierce, would become a decorated Union Army soldier, as well as a renowned poet, wit, author, and San Francisco newspaperman. His brilliant and searing columns for the San Francisco Examiner inspired generations of California newspaper writers. (A Bierce column about the legislature opened this way: "If nonsense were black, Sacramento would need gas lamps at noonday.")
His 1864 memoir, "What I Saw of Shiloh," remains a classic of wartime literature. But Bierce never lived long enough to write "What I Saw of Pancho Villa" -- or whatever he intended to call his later reporting south of the border. Bierce never returned from Mexico, dying circa 1914 either covering the Mexican Revolution or trying to join it. His death is still a mystery more than a century years later.
I still think of him from time to time, not only because of my roots in Bay Area journalism, but also because of a caustic classic he wrote called "The Devil's Dictionary." (Think: "Safire's Political Dictionary" for cynics.)
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.