by Edgar A. Guest
Taking our coats off and rolling our sleeves,
Answering the thoughtless that once made a jest of us,
Each man a soldier for what he believes.
Here we are, tight little island, in unity!
Tell us the job that you want us to do!
You can depend on us all with impunity;
Give us a task and we'll all see it through.
Here we are, France! every Yankee born man of us
Coming to stand by your side in the fight;
Liberty's cause makes a whole-hearted clan of us.
Here we are, willing to die for the right.
Silently, long from our shores we've admired you,
Secretly proud of the pluck you've displayed.
Brothers we are of the love that inspired you;
Now we are coming, full front, to your aid.
Here we are, Allies! make room in your trenches!
Shoulder to shoulder we'll share in each drive.
Here we are! quitting our lathes and our benches,
Bringing our best that our best shall survive.
Here we are! Liberty's children, red-blooded,
Coming to share in the struggle with you,
Ready to die for the Flag that's star studded;
Tell us the work that you want us to do.
What is it, fighting or building you're needing?
Boring a mountain or bridging a stream,
Steel work and real work? Your call we are heeding.
Each of us here is a man with a dream.
Here we are! tacklers of tough jobs and dangers,
Any old post where you put us we'll fit;
Coming to serve you as brothers, not strangers;
Here we are, Allies! to offer our bit!
Unto your cot and watched o'er you, and all the time you slept.
We tucked the covers round your form and smoothed your pillow too,
And sometimes stooped and kissed your cheeks, but that you never knew.
Just as we came to you back then through many a night and day,
Our spirits now shall come to you—to kiss and watch and pray.
Whenever you shall look away into God's patch of sky
To think about the folks at home, we shall be standing by.
And as we prayed and watched o'er you when you were wrapped in sleep,
So through your soldier danger now the old-time watch we'll keep.
You will not know that we are there, you will not see or hear,
But all the time in prayer and thought we shall be very near.
The world has made of you a man; the work of man you do,
But unto us you still remain the baby that we knew;
And we shall come, as once we did, on wondrous wings of prayer,
And you will never know how oft in spirit we are there,
We'll stand beside your bed at night, in silence bending low,
And all the love we gave you then shall follow where you go.
Oh, we were proud of you back then, but we are prouder now;
We see the stamp of splendor God has placed upon your brow,
And we who are the folks at home shall pray the old time prayer,
And ask the God of Mercy to protect you with His care.
And as we came to you of old, although you never knew,
The hearts of us, each day and night, shall come with love to you.
Seems that phrase in such a fight!
"Do your bit!" That cry recall,
Change it now to "Do your all!"
Do your all, and then do more;
Do what you're best fitted for;
Do your utmost, do and give,
You have but one life to live.
Do your finest, do your best,
Don't let up and stop to rest,
Don't sit back and idly say:
"I did somthing yesterday."
Come on! Here's another hour,
Give it all you have of power.
Here's another day that needs
Everybody's share of deeds.
"Do your bit!" of course, but then
Do it time and time again;
Giving, doing, all should be
Up to full capacity.
Now's no time to pick and choose,
We've a war we must not lose.
Be your duty great or small,
Do it well and do it all.
Do be careful, patient living,
Do by cheerful, open giving;
Do by serving day by day
At whatever post you may;
Do by sacrificing pleasrue
Do by scorning hours of leisure.
Now to God and country give
Every minute that you live.
So wail the doubters glum,
But here's the better view:
"My best I've yet to do."
The worst some always fear;
To-morrow holds no cheer,
Yet farther on life's lane
Are joys you shall attain.
Go forward bravely, then,
And play your part as men,
For this is ever true:
"Our best we've yet to do."
If I shall wear that look of care when time has marched apace?
My little boy is five years old and his is twenty-one;
My little boy is home with me; his boy to war has gone.
And I can laugh and dance with life, and I can gayly jest,
But heavy is the heart today that beats within his breast.
Time was, his boy was five years old; time was he smiled as I;
I wonder what awaits for me when youth has journeyed by?
Last night I sat at home and watched my little boy at play,
And all the time I thought of him whose boy has gone away.
And in the joy that I possessed I prayed in silence then
That God would quickly bring him back his little boy again.
"A hoard of gold and a few dear friends?
When you've reached the day that you look ahead
And see the place where your journey ends,
When Time has robbed you of yourthful might—
What is the secret of your delight?"
And an old man smiled as he answered me:
"The glory of age isn't gold or friends,
When we've reached the valley of Soon-To-Be
And note the place where our journey ends;
The glory of age, be it understood,
Is a boy out there who is making good.
"The greatest joy that can come to man
When his sight is dim and his hair is gray;
The greatest glory that God can plan
To cheer the lives of the old to-day,
When they share no more in the battle yell,
Is a boy out there who is doing well."
© 1999, Lynn Waterman