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Patriotic pieces from the Great War/Marching Forth to War


Permission of the Chicago Examiner, Chicago

It was grand to be a soldier and go swinging down the street
With a crowd of cheering children throwing flowers at your feet,
While the girls along the sidewalk waved to you a fond good-by,
And the prettiest of them, maybe, had a tear drop in her eye.
Bands were playing, flags were waving, when the army marched away,
It was glorious and thrilling, but it's pretty grim to-day.

Down the streets you file at midnight, not a soul to see or hear,
Not a strain of martial music, not a flutter not a cheer.
No one there to breathe a blessing on the cause you go to fight,
Or to wish you all the glory of a battle for the right.
Gloom and silence all around you, gloom and silence on before.
Ah! it sure does take a hero thus to march away to war.

It was fine to be a soldier, when the ship sailed down the bay,
And the shores were filled with people come to watch you sail away.
How the whistles shrieked and shouted on the boats that passed you by,
How the echoing farewell salvos rose until they reached the sky.
How you thought of deeds of valor as you watched the vessel's bow
Cut the waves that tumbled seaward. Ah! It's grimmer business now.

In the darkness of the morning, just before the break of dawn,
On the silent decks you huddle as the vessel hurries on.
One by one you see the fading of the lights along the shore,
And you hear the swash and rustle of the water, nothing more.
Like an exile you must stand there and look out across the foam.
Ah! it takes a heart of iron thus to sail away from home.