This is the poem of the month for July. This poem was written by Edgar Guest, a popular Michigan poet. The title is “The Sixth Detachment.” Apparently Guest signed up to participate in World War I (American involvement in WWI extended from April 1917 to November 1918), but the unit to which he was attached never made it to France, and possibly never out of training camp. Written in mild imitation of some of the more patriotic poems about the men who did make it to France, I like it for its poetic form and especially for its message, which is approximately appropriate for today’s situation.
The Sixth Detachment
Edgar A. Guest
We weren’t in the papers so much,
We didn’t reap much of the fame,
When they’re writing the story of all of the glory,
Perhaps they won’t mention our name.
But there wasn’t a job we neglected,
And taking the past in review,
I reckon today, we can stand up and say
We did what they gave us to do.
We didn’t sniff powder in battle,
We didn’t get into the gas,
We weren’t at the front, in the heat and the brunt,
Just daring the Boches to pass.
But now that the fighting is over,
And the planning and working are through,
We can make this our boast, that we stuck to the post,
And did what they gave us to do.
We didn’t get fed on excitement,
We never got sight of a ship,
Though we hungered for France, they denied us the chance
And none of us packed up a grip.
But we stuck to our duty like soldiers,
And never a one was untrue,
We missed all the fun of the war with the Hun
But we did what they gave us to do.