Wednesday, September 20, 2017

As we watch Ken Burns' "Vietnam" on TV

He was just a small church parson when the war broke out, but he had a man's religion, and he had a strong man's mind, and he heard the call to duty, and he quit his church and went, and he made a vow to follow everywhere the boys were sent. He put aside his broadcloth and he put the khaki on. He said he was a soldier and was going to live like one. He wasn't there a fortnight ere he saw the soldiers' needs, and he said, "I'm done with preaching. Now is the time for deeds!"

In the front line trench he labored, and he knew the feel of mud, and he didn't run from danger and he wasn't scared of blood. He wrote letters for the wounded and he cheered them with his jokes, and he never made a visit without passing 'round the smokes. Then one day a bullet got him as he kneeled beside a lad who was "going west" right speedy, and they both seemed mighty glad, 'cause he held the boy's hand tighter and he smiled and whispered low, "Now you needn't fear the journey. Over there with you I'll go." And they both passed on together. Arm and arm I think they went. He had kept his vow to follow everywhere the boys were sent.   (Edgar Guest, abridged)

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