There are many splendid soldiers
With insignias on their shoulders;
When I meet them on the street, up goes my hand.
And with military motion, I express extreme devotion:
Both my homage and respect these men command.
But I somehow have a feeling
All too earnest for concealing,
When I meet the private soldiers day by day;
And my heart leaps up, saluting
Those who, quite beyond disputing,
Are the men who must go deepest in the fray
Theirs the duties unremitting--
Theirs the pleasures brief and flitting--
Theirs the hard and dull routine work in the rear.
Theirs to march on, uncomplaining,
Be it hot, or be it raining;
Theirs to plunge into the fight when foes are near.
Theirs to make a lowly station
Shed great glory on the Nation:
And if need be, theirs to die to save the land.
So, dear fellows, I salute you!
And I know Death will transmute you
Every one into a General in God's band.
Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox. London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.
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