Read WITH THE COLORS of With the Colors Songs of the American Service, free online book, by Everard Jack Appleton, on


It isn’t just colors and bunting
The red and the blue and the white.
It’s something heaps better and finer,
It’s the soul of my country in sight!

There’s a lot of ceremony ’bout the Flag,
Though many half-baked patriots believe
Salutin’ it and hangin’ it correct
“Is only loyalty upon the sleeve.”
But we who work beneath the Flag to-day,
Who’ll honor it and die for it, perhaps
Get a slightly different view of the old red, white and blue
Than is visioned by th’ criticisin’ chaps.

It isn’t just for decoratin’ things,
It isn’t just an emblem, clean and bright,
No matter what its “hoist” or what its “fly,”
To us it means our country wrong or right!
The sobby stuff that some good people spout
Won’t help a man to understand this view,
But: Wherever that Flag goes, the man who follows, knows
That a better, cleaner citizen goes too!

It’s not just a banner to look at,
For which we’re expected to fight;
It’s something that represents freedom;
It’s the soul of my country in sight!


This is no time to quibble or to fool;
To argue over who was wrong, who right;
To measure fealty with a worn foot-rule;
To ask: “Shall we keep still or shall we fight?”
The Clock of Fate has struck; the hour is here;
War is upon us now not far away;
One question only rises, clarion clear:
“How may I serve my country, day by day?”

Not all of us may join the khakied throng
Of those who answer and go forth to stem
The tide of war. But we can all be strong
And steady in our loyalty to them!
Not with unfettered thought, or tongue let loose
In bitterness and hate a childish game!
But with a faith, untroubled by abuse,
That honors those who put the rest to shame!

There is no middle ground on which to stand;
We’ve done with useless pro-and-con debates;
The one-time friend, so welcome in this land,
Has turned upon us at our very gates.
There is no way, with honor, to stand back
Real patriotism isn’t cool then hot;
You cannot trim the flag to fit your lack;
You are American or else you’re not!


You pull a lot of funny stuff about us, when there’s peace,
The jokes you spring are sometimes rough, and make a guy see red;
But when there’s trouble in the air you “vaudevillians” cease,
And them that laughed the loudest laugh, salute the flag instead!

Oh, it’s kid the boys along
When there’s nothing going wrong;
But when your country’s facin’ war,
You sing a different song!

The khaki that they doll us in ain’t seen war service no!
The most of it has been worn thin a-loafin’ ’round the mess;
Folks think it’s great to josh us when things are goin’ slow,
But when the country’s all het up we ain’t so worse, I guess!

Then it’s, “Look! The Guard is here;
Fine set of men, muh dear."...
(We’d like it better if you spread
Your jollies through th’ year!)

We’re only folks th’ reg’lar kind that answered to th’ call;
We may be dumb and also blind but still we’ll see it through!
Just wearin’ khaki doesn’t change our insides not a’tall!
We’re human (Does that seem so strange?) waitin’ to fight for you!

We mayn’t be worth a cuss
In this ugly foreign muss,
But when the nation needs some help,
Why pass the job to us!


(Of course, this didn’t happen,
But if it had
Would you have been shocked?)

She was a pretty little thing,
Round-headed, bronze-haired and trim
As a yacht.
And when she married a handsome, polished Prussian
(Before the war was ours)
Her friends all said
She’d made no mistake.
He had much money, and he wasn’t arrogant
To her.
Their baby came
Big and blue-eyed,
Solemn and serious,
With his father’s arrogance in the small.
She knew how wonderful a child he was
And said so.
The husband knew it, too
Because the child looked like him,
And they were happy
Until the Nation roused itself,
Stretched and yawned
And got into the hellish game of kill.
Then the man,
Who had been almost human,
Dropped his mask,
And uncovered his ragged soul.

Having no sense of right or wrong
No spiritual standards for measurements;
Feeding upon that same egotism
That swept his country
Into the depths of hate
He sneered and laughed
At her pale patriotism
And the country that inspired it.
There was no open break between them,
For a child’s small hands
Clung to both and kept them close.
Shutting her eyes to all else
Save that she was his wife,
She played her part well.
His work his bluff at work, instead
Was something big and important
(Always he looked the importance)
That had to do with ships
Ships that idled at their docks to-day
Because they were interned.
And there was always money
More money than she had ever known,
Which he lavished on himself
And his desires.

Not that he gave her nothing,
For he did....
They lived in a big hotel,
And the child had everything it should have
And much it should not.
She, too, was cared for well,
After his wants were satisfied.

The silent blow fell.
Secret service men called upon him,
And next day he was taken away
To a detention camp
For alien enemies.
Interned like the anchor-chafing ships
That once had flown his flag!
The woman, up in arms, dinned at officials
Until (so easy-going and so slow to learn)
They told her what he had done.
That night she stared long at their child, asleep,
And at its father’s picture,
On her dresser....
Did the wife-courage that transcends
All other kinds of bravery
Keep her awake for hours,
Planning, scheming, thinking?

A week later she and the child
A blue-eyed, self-assertive mite
Were at the camp,
She carrying it (the nurse was left behind)
And the passports that allowed her to see him
One hour, with a guard five yards away.
Some of his polite impudence was gone,
Yet he threw back his head and shoulders
And shrugged as his wife and boy came in.
“Always late,” said he, after a perfunctory kiss,
“You and your country!”
She stared long at him, holding the child close,
Her own round, bronze head bowed.

Then, with a swift glance at the guard
Thoughtfully chewing a straw and looking
At the city of shacks,
She spoke.
“Did you know, Karl,” she whispered,
“That my brother was on that transport
My only brother a soldier my only blood?
If it had gone down that transport been sunk ”
“Well?” said he. That was all.
“My brother my only Karl!”
“Well?” said he again. “What of it?”
Then her little head lifted, her eyes gone mad
“This!” she said. “Rather than give
Life to another human scorpion like you
Man in form only! Lower than the floor of hell itself;
Rather than have my blood mingle with
The foul poison that is yours,
To make a child of ours
This: I give him back to you
And recall my love all of my love!”
Again he shrugged his shoulders,
Yawned and saw, too late.

Swift as the eagle that drives a lamb to death
She whipped a hat-pin from her dainty hat,
Drove it with steady aim
Into the baby’s heart
And handed back to the gulping man
All that was left of what had once meant joy
A dead baby with red bubbles on its lips!


Mighty little doin’ yet a lot to do
While the navy’s standin’ guard, we are lookin’ out;
Patrol boats in shoals, good old craft and new
Hustle here and skitter there what’s it all about?

Speed boats and slow boats
Loaf around or run,
But ev’ry unit of this fleet
Mounts a wicked gun!

Pleasure craft a-plenty, all dolled up in gray
Grim and ugly war-paint dress, we’re a gloomy lot,
Slidin’ in and out, never in the way.
Gosh! It’s wearin’ on the nerves, waitin’ round for what?

Some boats are bum boats,
Layin’ for the Hun
But ev’ry boat that flies our Flag
Mounts a wicked gun!

Stickin’ for the Big Show! Will it ever start?
When it does, Good night, Irene! We won’t make a squeak.
“Boy Scouts of the Sea,” watch us do our part
If a raider or a sub. gives us just a peek!

Tin boats and wood boats
Ev’ry single one
Longs to get in action with
Its wicked little gun!


Little mother, little mother, with the shadows in your eyes
And the icy hand of Fear about your heart,
You cannot help your boy prepare to make his sacrifice
Unless you make yours bravely, at the start!

He is training, as a million others train;
He is giving what the others give their best;
Make him feel your faith in him, though your troubled eyes grow dim;
Let him know that you can stand the acid test!

Because he’s joined the colors he’s not dead!
Because he’s found his duty he’s not lost!
Through your mother-love, my dear, keep him steady, keep him near
To the soul he loves your soul whate’er the cost!

You’re not alone in heartaches or in doubts;
All mothers feel this burden newly coined;
Then call your trembling pride to your colors to your side
“Be a sport!” and make him glad that he has joined!

Little mother, little mother, with the shadows in your eyes
And the icy hand of Fear about your heart,
There is this that you can do: “Play the game”; there honor lies.
Now your boy and country need you do your part!


It’s a high-falutin’ title they have handed us;
It’s very complimentary an’ grand;
But a year or so ago they called us “hicks,” you know
An’ joshed the farmer and his hired hand!

Now it’s, “Save the country, Farmer!
Be a soldier of the soil!
Show your patriotism, pardner,
By your never-ending toil.”
So we’re croppin’ more than ever,
An’ we’re speedin’ up the farm;
Oh, it’s great to be a soldier
A sweatin’, sun-burnt soldier,
A soldier in the furrows
Away from “war’s alarm!”

While fightin’ blight and blister,
We hardly get a chance
To read about our “comrades”
A-doin’ things in France.
To raise the grub to feed ’em
Is some job, believe me plus!
And I ain’t so sure a soldier
A shootin’, scrappin’ soldier,
That’s livin’ close to dyin’
Ain’t got the best of us!

But we’ll harrer and we’ll harvest,
An’ we’ll meet this new demand
Like the farmers always meet it
The farmers and the land.
An’ we hope, when it is over
An’ this war has gone to seed,
You will know us soldiers better
Th’ sweatin’, reapin’ soldiers,
Th’ soldiers that have hustled
To raise th’ grub you need!

It’s a mighty fancy title you have given us,
A name that sounds too fine to really stick;
But maybe you’ll forget (when you figure out your debt)
To call th’ man who works a farm a “hick.”


Billy is a ladies’ man; Billy dances fine
(Always was a bear-cat at the game);
Billy pulls the social stuff all along the line
But he knows this business, just the same.

He can march; he can drill
As hard as any rook;
And he knows his manual
Without his little book.

Maybe he was soft at first ev’rybody’s that;
Golfing was his hardest labor then;
Now he’s in the Service (where you don’t grow fat),
Digging, drilling, like us other men.

He can eat, he can sleep
Like any healthy brute
And the Captain says that Billy-boy
Is learning how to shoot!

When he joined the Training Camp, Billy says, “No doubt,
I will draw some clerical position;”
But he’s shown he can command; so the news is out
He will get a regular commission!

He can talk; he can dance
(He is still the ladies’ pet)
But the way he barks his orders out
Gets action, you c’n bet!


The capting says, says he to us:
“Your duty is to do your best;
We can’t ALL lead in this here muss,
So mind your job! That is the test
O’ soldierin’,
O’ soldierin’
To mind your job, while soldierin’!”

When Jimmy joined the colors first, he knowed that soon he’d be
A non-com. officer, oh, sure, he had that idée firm;
But Jimmy got another think, fer quite eventually
They had him workin’ like a Turk, th’ pore, astonished worm.

The rest of us, we gotta eat, and Jimmy he can cook!
(He makes a stew that tastes as good as mother used to make.)
An’ when he starts to flappin’ cakes, why, every hungry rook
Is droolin’ at the mouth for them, a-waitin’ fer his take.

He’s ranked a sergeant, but he don’t mix up with no recruits;
He rides a horse when we parade (which ain’t so often now);
But where he shines is when we eat; the grub that Jimmy shoots
At hungry troopers every day is certainly “some chow.”

He’s jest a “dough-boy,” of a sort; it’s Jimmy’s job to cook;
Don’t hafter drill, don’t hafter tote a lot of arms with him;
Jest messes up th’ stuff we eat, and we don’t hafter look
It’s always clean! So here’s a good luck and health to Cookie Jim!

The capting says, says he: “You rooks
Have gotta lot to learn, I’ll say,
‘Cept Jimmy; he’s the best o’ cooks
Troop Z has had fer many a day
While soldierin’,
While soldierin’
He does his work, while soldierin’!”


This is the story as told to me;
It may be a fairy-tale new,
But I know the man, and I know that he lies
Very infrequently, too!

When the boys in khaki first were called to serve,
Guarding railroad bridges and the like,
Bob was just a private in the old N. G.,
Fond of all the work except the hike.
When they sent his comp’ny down the road a bit,
“Gee!” he said, “I’d like to commandeer
Some one’s car and drive it marching gets my goat!”
(Bob was quite a gas-car engineer.)

Lonesome work, this pacing up and down a bridge.
Now and then a loaded train goes by;
But at night just nothing; everything was dead;
Empty world beneath an empty sky.
Then the chauffeur lady got into the game,
Drove her car each midnight to our tents,
Bringing us hot coffee, sandwiches, and pie;
All the others thought that was immense.

But Bob, ungrateful cuss, he would never say,
Like the rest, that she had saved their lives;
He was too blamed busy, like the one-armed man
Papering the one that had the hives!
Bob would eat the lunches eat and come again,
Silent, but as hungry as a pup;
Finish with a piece o’ pie, swallow it and go;
Never had to make him hurry up!

Then one night we heard him talking to the girl,
Like he was complaining to her: “Say!
Can’t you change the stuffing? I am sick of ham!
Have a heart! I’d just as lief eat hay!”
Did we all jump on him? You can bet we did:
“Who gave you the right to kick, you steer,
Over what she brings us? She’s a first-rate pal;
Talk some more and get her on her ear!”

Bob was somewhat flustered; thought we hadn’t heard.
Then he said, “Well, ain’t you tired o’ ham?”
“What of that?” says Wilcox. “Think of how she works!
Spends her cash ...!” (All Bob said then was, “Damn!”)
Grabbing up his Springfield, “Listen, you!” he snaps.
“That’s my motor and my gasoline.
Sure she’s spending money but it comes from me;
She’s my sister, and her name’s Irene!”

Then, as he marched himself into the night,
We looked at each other a spell.
“We’ve ditched our good luck he won’t let her come back,”
Says Wilcox. “Now isn’t that hell!”


Bugler Bill mild-mannered, shy
Is straight.... But I wonder if Bill would lie?

Bugler Bill is a pensive lad,
Whether he’s workin’ or not;
Serious-faced an’ pitiful sad
(Think he was goin’ t’ be shot!)
Whenever he bugles, some of us cry
Reveille, taps, or mess
With musical sob-stuff Bill gets by,
Plaintive and full of distress!

Bugler Bill is never real gay,
But built on a sour-face plan;
Bill wouldn’t laugh, whatever you’d say;
Looks like a love-poisoned man.
“Grin, ye hyenas,” he’ll say as he smokes;
I ain’t a frivolous guy ”
“Thinkin’ of all of the pain you caused folks
While learnin’ to play?” asks I.

Bugler Bill, he sighs as he turns,
Shakin’ his head at me.
“A long while ago th’ bugle I learns
So don’t you git funny,” says he.
“My audience laughed till it cried salty tears,
An’ everyone called me a joy.
I was a clown in a circus for years
That’s why I’m solemn, my boy!”

Bugler Bill come “out of the Draft”
D’you s’pose at that joke he actually laughed?


He’s not very handsome or clever,
He’s slow in his wits and he’s fat,
And yet he’s a soldier of Uncle Sam’s
Now, whaddy you know about that?

We always called him Dummy,
And thought he wouldn’t fight;
We sneered at him and jeered at him
He was and is a sight!
His feet are big, his head is small,
His German blood is slow,
But at the call for volunteers,
Why, didn’t Heinie go?

He’s workin’ as a hostler
(He used to be a clerk)
He don’t enjoy his job, that boy,
But Heinie is no shirk.
“This is my country just as much
As it is yours,” says he;
“I’m gonna do what I can do
To keep it mine!... You’ll see!

“My father, he come over here
To get away from things;
He couldn’t abide on th’ other side
Aristocrats and kings.
The Stars and Stripes mean liberty,
I’ve always understood;
So gimme the right to work or fight
I betcha I’ll make good.

“As a chambermaid to horses
In a battery that’s new,
The work is rough and mean enough
And wouldn’t appeal to you;
But I’ve got my place and I’ll stick to it
Can any man do more?
I’ve never had a chance, like dad,
To prove myself before.”

Perhaps he won’t get a commission;
Perhaps he is dull, and all that;
But somehow I feel that he’s better than me
Now whaddy you know about that?


You mustn’t hate the enemy that wastes a lot of “pep”
The Colonel passed the word around the training camp to-day.
The Captain says with modern war we gotta all catch step;
“Cut out the rough-necked rage and talk, and don’t you think or say:

“’Pirates, rapists, murderers; poisoners and lying thieves;
Super-vandals, run amuck black devils quoting sermons;
This world was mostly Heaven-made, our Chaplain, he believes;
But Hell itself conceived and spawned the Military Germans!

“The enemy is good at killing kids, and old folks, too;
Torpedoing hospital ships and blowin’ up our plants;
But cogitatin’ on their line of wicked things won’t do;
We’ll never hate ’em off the map just give the guns a chance!”

So we don’t go in for loathin’, and with anger we don’t burn;
We’re drillin’, and we’re diggin’, and we’re workin’ all the while;
To put ’er in the target is the trick we hafter learn
And ev’ry man’s a better shot when he can shoot and smile!

The folks at home will spend their time a-broodin’ over all
The nasty devils do and on the details they can dwell;
It’s up to us to learn this game, and then when comes the call
Pump lead into the enemy and send him back to hell.


Since Johnny has joined the Marine corps,
Of course he will do what he’s told,
And Johnny will be at home on the sea
The day he is eighteen years old.
Just what they expect of my baby
Ain’t clear to his maw; my, oh, my!
But Johnny’s a-wearin’ the blue and ain’t carin’
He’s gone! Is it wrong if I cry?

It ain’t been so long, I remember,
That Johnny, my baby, was sick
Whenever he’d get on a boat, and he’d fret
Till we’d land which was usually quick.
But now, with his gun and his kit-bag,
He’s answered the call, bless his heart!
And he’ll square out his jaw and think of his maw
And go in to win from the start!

My Johnny’s not fightin’ for pleasure
(I know he’ll be sea-sick, pore kid!)
But he said, “If I stayed, they’d call me afraid;
I gotta sign up” and he did.
So now I sit here, sorter dreamin’
Of the days he was mine. They are done
I’m proud; but I wish I could fix up a dish
Of doughnuts for Johnny, my son!


We slid into the harbor here,
A line of battle-cruisers gray,
With hungry guns as silent as
The bands aboard that did not play.
The fog was soft, the fog was damp,
The hush was thick and wide as space,
But ev’ry man was standing at
Attention in his given place.

We’d made the port, with time to spare
And Uncle Sam’s first Fleet was there!

Then came those other navy men
Our allies in this troubled cause
Weary of holding back the Hun,
Clipping, too slow, his cruel claws.
Our Admiral, a few-words man,
Greeted the visitors.... “We’re here,”
He said, and that was all. They smiled
And said they hoped the weather’d clear.

But still those men with tired eyes
Felt mighty grateful, I surmise!

Around our Fleet not very large
We took them, thoughtful faces set;
And then back to the fog-soaked town
They went uncomfortably wet;
But in those eyes a happier light,
That told him what they’d like to say
That they were glad he had come back,
As he had hoped to do some day.

Another fleet, with fresher men,
Gave them a chance to breathe again!

Before they left to go ashore
(A crowd had gathered on the quay),
“When can you start to work?” they asked.
“How many hours will it be
Before you’re ready?” With a smile
Our fighting Admiral replied
(And there was joy in what he said,
Mingled with pardonable pride):

“Soon as the enemy we meet!...
We’re ready now men, guns, and Fleet.”

So that is how we started in
To do our share the Navy’s “bit”;
They were surprised, but Admiral Sims
Had surely made a three-base hit
With what he said.... And now it’s up
To us to do our hearty best
To make the seas the old-time seas;
Till that is done there’ll be no rest.

It is a job to stop the Hun,
But it’s a job that must be done!


It may be that you know him. A slim and likely kid;
Red-headed, tall, and soft of speech and glance.
He never took a prize at school (his talents always hid),
And yet he’s got a medal from the Government of France!

He didn’t kill a lot of men;
He never injured one;
He didn’t hold a trench alone;
He never manned a gun;
He drove an ambulance that’s all;
But those above him knew
He’d take it into hell and back
If he was ordered to!

That night (he’d been right on the job
For twenty hours or more)
They telephoned again for him
And as he cranked he swore.
Half dead for sleep, he drove too far,
Straight into No Man’s Land,
And there he gathered up four men
Who didn’t understand
Or care what happened.... Then a chap
Sagging with gobs of mud
He shoved into his throbbing car
That smelled of drugs and blood.

The other roared, but Briggs, sleep-deaf,
Stared at the moon on high
’Twas like some spent star-shell glued on
A blue-black, tired sky
And didn’t try to hear or think;
He only tried to keep
His car from sliding off the road
And not to fall asleep.
The ambulance went skidding back
(His chains had lost themselves),
While now and then a growl came from
Its stretcher-ladened shelves.
Briggs never stopped, but when the groans
Were punctured with a curse
He told the weary moon, “At least
This flivver is no hearse!”
And slowly yawned again.... At last
They rounded Trouble Bend,
Base Eight before them and that ride
Was at a welcome end....
The blood-stained orderlies came out
To take the wounded in,
Opened the doors to lift the wrecks....
Before they could begin
There tumbled out the mud-caked man,
Whose mouth was shot away;
A man who stared like some wild beast
Finally brought to bay;
For Briggs, Base Eight, American,
Had brought (beside his four)
A German officer, half drunk
For need of rest! who swore
And cried, and then sank back again
And fell asleep.... That’s why
They’ve decorated little Briggs
Red-headed, tall, and shy!

“I didn’t do a thing,” he growls;
“’Twas just a fool mistake,
And he’d have captured me, of course,
If he had been awake.
He tried to talk (his battered mouth
Was just a shredded scar);
But we were wasting time, and so
I pushed him in the car
And came on back.... Now, what is there
About that sort of stuff
To make a fuss for? I am not
A hero.... I’m a bluff!”
The surgeon smiles.... “If he can make
A capture in the night
When doing Red Cross work, what would
He do if he should fight?”
He asks, and looks a long way off
To where the pounding guns
Are making other harmless wrecks
Of one-time hellish Huns.

I wonder if you know him? A slim and quiet kid,
Red-headed, tall, and soft of speech and glance;
He doesn’t like to have you talk about the thing he did
And yet he’s got a medal from the Government of France.


At home, he drove a taxi,
A job he’d now disdain;
He’s learning (on a queer machine)
To drive an aeroplane.
It doesn’t fly it glumps along
And bumps him, ev’ry chance;
His tumbling, rumbling “Penguin”
Out there Somewhere in France.

It isn’t fun to drive it,
But he’s not out for fun;
He’s going to learn to drop good bombs
Upon the no-good Hun!
And so, until he graduates,
He makes his Penguin prance
His bumping, jumping Penguin
Out there Somewhere in France.

As soon as he’s a pilot,
(And earned his Golden Wings)
He’ll take the air on high, you bet
And do some bully things!
The Prussians will be sorry
He ever learned to dance
With a rearing, tearing Penguin
Out there Somewhere in France.


Back of the Front in this durn trainin’ camp,
Day after day we are stuck, an’ we swear
Whenever we hear th’ regular tramp
Of th’ men who are through and are goin’ somewhere.
We’re all of us willin’, but why keep us drillin’
Forever?... Just waitin’ for somethin’ to do!

At home they are readin’ th’ outlandish name
Of a battle that’s won or a hero that’s dead
Of a stunt that had won him a place in this Game
But all that I’ve won is a cold in my head!
While others are fightin’ we’re readin’ or writin’
An’ the censors will see that it don’t get to you!

We long for a scrap that will sizzle the blood;
We hone for a chance to bust in a head;
This marchin’ an’ diggin’ in acres of mud
Ain’t as excitin’ as bein’ plain dead.
War may be a curse, but this here is worse
This dreamin’ th’ dreams that never come true.

All set for a mix-up that we can’t begin;
Ready and anxious for whatever comes,
We’re linked to the side-lines.... Ain’t it a sin,
Spendin’ good hours a-twiddlin’ thumbs?
Seems like a crime to waste so much time
A-waitin’ an’ waitin’! You’d find it so, too.

My bunkie is peevish, and I’m out of tune;
The Capting’s a grouch whenever we hike;
If we don’t get into this muss pretty soon,
We fellers are likely to go on a strike!
We signed for a scrap, not a tea or a nap,
Or to wait,
And to wait,
And to wait
Till it’s through!


What’s th’ meanin’ of the look you see in soldiers’ eyes?
Some of them you thought would kick an’ stall around an’ howl;
But just listen (if they’ll talk) an’ hear, to your surprise,
A lot of laughs, a lot o’ tales but never once a growl!

Business man and bell hop,
Farmer boy and clerk;
Easy-going spendthrifts,
Men that have to work;
Firemen and brokers,
Chauffeurs still “in gear”;
The army is the melting pot
We’re all right here!

Desk men and road men,
Men who sweep the street;
Coal men and plumbers
(If they have good feet);
Showmen and film stars,
All have mislaid fear.
Funny crowd; but we should fret
We’re all right here!

Keen men and dull men,
Razor-edged or dumb,
High-grade and low-grade,
Some, plain medium;
Feet upon the drill-ground,
Hearts all beating high;
You are glad that you are here,
And so, old top, am I!

That’s the meaning of the call; ev’ry man is proud
He is in the common cause, with a bunch of men
Fighting for democracy, lined up with this crowd
God! It’s pretty nifty just to be a man again!


Sister Susie’s sittin’ knittin’
Sweaters, wristlets, scarfs, an’ socks;
She ain’t “sewin’ shirts for soldiers”
’Cause she got so many knocks
From th’ papers ’bout her sewin’
Now she’s knittin’ pounds of yarn
Into things to send away.... Well,
I don’t care,
Don’t care a darn!

Hasn’t knit no scarf or sweater,
Hasn’t made no socks for me;
Little brother, he can rustle
For himself alone, you see!
Maw is on the Help Committee,
Paw is drillin’ with th’ Guard;
Brother’s soldierin’ and sister’s
Knittin’ fast
An’ awful hard!

No, they won’t pay me no ’tention,
So I’m goin’ to run away,
Join th’ army as a as a
Bellboy, may be, without pay.
Then I’ll get a scarf an’ sweater
And some socks, soon as I go,
From some other feller’s sister
That I do not
Even know.


“I wasn’t so much of a soldier,” said the soul of Sergeant Todd,
(Fumbling at his medal, that statement sounded odd.)
“I wasn’t so much of a fighter, but when they came, and came,
Yelling and shooting, I just got mad, and I reckon I did the same.
Into my trench they piled just boys
Making a most outlandish noise.”

A Corporal’s soul beside him nodded and mustered a smile:
“You handled a dozen at once,” he said; “they didn’t come single file.
If you wasn’t ‘much of a soldier,’ or shirked in your duty well, say,
What sort of a chance have other men got when tested on Judgment Day?
You fought them all, you did; and when
They quit, you started in again!”

“Shut up!” said the soul of Sergeant Todd; “you’re still in my squad,
I say that I lacked what you did not lack courage to die, unafraid.
I was a coward, a trembling coward, deep in my craven heart;
I fought with the fear of that fear at my soul, playing no hero’s part!
You can’t understand it but I
Had none of the courage to die!

“And now that I’m dead,” said the troubled soul of the one-time
Sergeant Todd,
“It didn’t seem right that those who live should think I have met our God
As a brave man does: his honor clear, with his courage unscathed
and whole.
On this high plane there is no room for a fear-troubled human soul;
So Sergeant Todd” (he bowed his head)
Fears no more for his body’s dead!”


We meet ev’ry week to make surgical dressings
And one woman does it dead wrong;
I watched her a day then I just had to say,
“My dear! If I may that’s too long!”
While I was explaining the teacher came by
She’s so cross that her mouth’s just a line
And found fault with me and my work....
After that
I’ll mind no one’s business but mine!

To-day I was filling my neighbor’s slow mind
With War-Garden ideas and lore,
When a dog I don’t know just ruined mine so
I’ll not advise her any more!
Then a talk that I gave to the Home Service Group
On “Waste” was quite spoiled though ’twas fine
By my bread burning up while I talked....
After this
I’ll mind no one’s business but mine!

At a lecture on “Hospital Units at Work”
A woman (who looked fifty-three)
Ere the talk had begun started crying....
Her son
Has gone, she confided to me.
“But you should be brave and ’buck up’,” I remarked.
“And yours?” she asked.... How did she divine
That I am not married?... Oh, well, after this
I’ll mind no one’s business b-but mine!


This horrid old war is right in our house
Making itself at home, goodness sakes!
The scraps from our table won’t feed a mouse
We’ve cut out desserts, salads, and cakes.
Monday is meatless and Tuesday is dry,
Wednesday is sugarless, too, gee whiz!
Our plates must be cleaned, they tell us. That’s why
We eat the garbage before it is!

So I bought a melon the other day
When ma was ’tending a Red Cross tea.
I wanted it awful bad.... Anyway
It wasn’t so big just right for me
And then, just to keep from wasting a drop,
I ate it all up!... Our colored Liz
Says Pa told the doctor, “My fault, old top
“‘We eat the garbage before it is.’”

The doctor was writing a ’scription note
When I come to, turned over and grinned,
And he frowned at Pa, as he wrote and wrote,
Till Pa grew red like his cheeks was skinned.
“Eating the garbage? Now, listen, man,
If that’s your game it’s good for my biz.
But if I was you, I surely would ‘can’
“‘We eat the garbage before it is!’”


"I’ve given a lot of my time and work
To helping my country,” says he;
“No one can tell you that I am a shirk
In the great cause of Liberty!”
(Perhaps you have met him?
Well, then, forget him!)

John Lampas was a Greek,
John Lampas isn’t now;
He’s just a plain American
And eating soldier chow.
He joined the army recently,
But first he gave away
His touring car, his watch, his cash
To the Red Cross one day,
And then enlisted. “That’s all I can do,”
He said; “and I’m glad to give it, for true!”

He doesn’t ask for praise,
For jollies, or for guff;
He gave because this land gave him
A chance which was enough!
He hasn’t got a dollar;
He’s just a khakied man,
But, somehow, he seems mighty like
A true American!
His cash and his watch and his auto he gave,
And then himself. Was that foolish, or brave?

So when I hear that other chap
Congratulate himself because
He gave “some time” I’d like to rap
Him once across his selfish paws!
(Because I have met him
I want to forget him!)


We’re not a bit deluded by the notion
That this is just a picnic, or that we
Enlisted for a trip across the ocean
There’s work ahead, not just a joyous spree.
Of course we sing and talk and sometimes dance;
But get this in your mind that when we hear
“Hullo, Soldier! How’s the boy?” as we disembark in France,
They will hear us answer, “Ready!”
Loud and clear;
They will see that we are ready,
Never fear.

Don’t you think that we are just a bunch of flivvers;
We’ve measured up the job that must be done
And we know what we are facing, though the shivers
Don’t turn our spines to rubber not a one!
The Prussian scorned the world. Well, let him scorn it
(The world exchanges loathing for that scorn);
We haven’t put on khaki to adorn it,
But to make the Prussian sorry
He was born;
And to send him back, his “Kultur”
Banner torn!

So it doesn’t matter that some foolish people
Bemoan the fact this Army’s on the go;
Unless it is, the harvest they will reap’ll
Be slavery or death, they ought to know.
It isn’t what they want or what we’d like
It’s what we’ve got to do.... When others say,
“Hullo, Soldier! How’s the boy?” as we drill and shoot and hike,
They must hear us answer, “Ready!”
Ev’ry day,
It’s this nation’s debt to France we’ve
Come to pay!


A simple ditty Private Smithy sang for me,
Entitled “Beans."... The tune was not a joy;
The words were commonplace as they could be,
But just to hear his earnest voice “Oh, Boy!”

When first I went a-sojerin’
I couldn’t eat the stuff
The cookies gave the bunch of us,
For it was rough and tough.
But since I’ve been a-sojerin’
And learned what livin’ means
The grub we get tastes mighty good,
E-special-lee th’ beans,
Especially th’ beans!

We all were soft and flabby
Our hands and muscles, too
We had been used to easy things
To eat, to think, to do.
But when we tackled trench work,
With all that diggin’ means,
We learned to like the sojer grub,
E-special-lee th’ beans,
Especially th’ beans.

So now we’re very diff’rent
When mess-call comes around;
We’ve got our appetites all set
A-waitin’ for that sound;
It’s always “second helpin’s”
Behind the mess-tent screens;
We’re glad for Uncle Sam’s good grub,
E-special-lee th’ beans,
Especially th’ beans!

A very simple ditty, you’ll agree with me;
A commonplace production; but the joy
And unction that he puts into the melody,
The splendid appetite he sings Oh, Boy!


We number hundreds of thousands, and we’re nowhere near the front;
We’re pen and pencil pushers, or “serving” the adding machines;
We’ll never reach the firing-line, nor bear its hellish brunt
But where’d they be if it weren’t for us, workers behind the scenes?

Book-keeper, paymaster, spectacled clerk,
Doing our bit, though it’s every day work
We’re all of us part of The Service!

We’re the backwash whirl of the pool of War gathering in the men,
We cannot fight as others fight, though just as loyal and true;
We’re the silent corps of the Men Behind, over and over again
Doing our part in the war for Right, small though it seem to you.

Figuring, checking-up, testing all day,
Knowing no hours and not too much pay
We’re all of us part of The Service.

If it takes ten men behind the front to put one on the Line,
(We all remember the speech that cheers the backwash, anyhow!)
We’re putting them there and do not ask for furloughs.... That’s a sign
We’re not the guests of the Government we’re in The Service now.

A cog in the big machine? Maybe
But a cog that doesn’t complain, you see
We’re all of us part of The Service!


There’s a Red Cross Button on his left lapel,
And a Liberty Bond pin on his right;
There’s a U. S. flag above the Red Cross, too;
His patriotism’s never out of sight!
His loyalty is spread on his hollow breast
(And sometimes he’s pathetic, I confess),
But the button that he’s most ashamed to wear
Is the one that reads

U. S.

There’s an aching heart in his 28-chest,
There’s a look of deep longing in his eyes;
Behind his heavy glasses there gleams a hope
That maybe he can grow an inch in size!
There’s a hero-throb in the heart of that boy,
Though he wears too much “scenery” ah, yes!
But the badge that hurts he really tries to hide
It’s the one that reads

U. S.

You fellows that are in have a heart for those
Who want to be, but can’t! For they must know
A bitterness of soul you can never feel
They haven’t got a chance on earth to go!
So it’s, “Stay back home with the old and unfit,”
(There’s nothing else to do but that, I guess!)
The badge he’d be glad to throw a mile away
Is the one that reads

U. S.


Line after line, you swung along,
You men, who only a while ago
Were just a part of the city’s throng
Working for self, sedate and slow.
But now what a diff’rence! Living throbs
Of the Nation’s heart! Her reborn men;
And some who saw you gulped back sobs
And wished you were marching home again!
Our eyes were dim as you went past,
For we knew you at last!

We felt that every senseless joke
About a soldier, wherever made,
Would make us ashamed.... For now we choke
Whenever the Colors and you parade!
Wherever that O. D. uniform
Shall gladden the eyes of we useless men
We can’t forget who is meeting the storm
That some of you won’t come home again!
You went.... We talked.... God blot the past!
For we know you at last!


To take this trouble seriously,
But not to gloom or whine;
To never overestimate
Our strength, or to decline
To see this is no picnic,
But do our earnest part
With brain and muscles, newly trained
To keep a steady heart!

To fight, but not to lower
Our standards in the dust;
To meet a savage enemy
Whose words the world can’t trust.
To guard our foolish tempers
Or keep them out of sight!
To never falter, doubt, or fear
The outcome will be right!

To laugh whenever laughter
Is best to keep us fit;
To shake hands with privation
When face to face with it.
To give without complaining
Or boasting what we give;
To make this world a safer world
For those who have to live!

To part with old traditions
That hampered in the past;
To see that heart-wrung “aliens”
As enemies aren’t classed,
But treated while deserving it
As human beings, too;

Just to be clean in mind and soul
That’s all we have to do!


Straight thinking,
Straight talking,
Straight doing,
And a firm belief in the might of right.

Patience linked with patriotism,
Justice added to kindliness,
Uncompromising devotion to this country,
And active, not passive, Americanism.

To talk less, to mean more,
To complain less, to accomplish more,
And to so live that every one of us is ready to look Eternity in the face at any moment, and be unafraid!