Remember the parents who sent their children to war
November 11, 2021
On Veterans Day we honor our veterans but we must also honor the mothers and fathers who sent their sons and daughters to war. Edgar Guest (1881–1959) wrote the book Poems of Patriotism in 1942.
My maternal grandmother loved Edgar Guest poetry. My Uncle Dave, her oldest son, was a tail gunner on a B-29 when President Harry S. Truman authorized dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. When he returned from combat, Grandma gave him a book of poetry by Guest. Twenty years ago, I visited my Uncle Dave in Bozeman, Montana, arriving on Sept. 10, 2001. The next day, as I was leaving, the TV showed shots of planes hitting the World Trade Center’s twin towers. I watched as the second plane hit one of the towers. Then it was time to take off, heading to Billings. As I was leaving, Uncle Dave gave me this book of poetry. I think he thought it appropriate due to the circumstances. I was also collecting genealogy information on the family and had interviewed him the night before. That genealogy was published in 2012. As an aside, I had two uncles on my dad’s side in World War II. One jumped out of perfectly good airplanes with the 82nd Airborne and landed behind the lines to set up a second front on June 5, 1944 - the day before D-Day. My dad’s other brother was an ace in WW II and came back to Arizona to train new pilots in the skill of airborne combat. Dad also had two brothers-in-law who met at the Elbe River with the Russians. The two armies entered Germany. That was early 1945. All my uncles came home from combat unscathed, which was remarkable considering the dangers they faced. I can never understand how my two grandmothers and grandfathers were able to continue daily life with their children in great danger of dying.
The Mother on the Sidewalk - Edgar A. Guest
The mother on the sidewalk as the troops are marching by
Is the mother of Old Glory that is waving in the sky.
Men have fought to keep it splendid, men have died to keep it bright,
But that flag was born of woman and her sufferings day and night;
’Tis her sacrifice has made it, and once more we ought to pray
For the brave and loyal mother of the boy that goes away.
There are days of grief before her, there are hours that she will weep,
There are nights of anxious waiting when her fear will banish sleep;
She has heard her country calling and has risen to the test,
And has placed upon the altar of the nation’s need, her best.
And no man shall ever suffer in the turmoil of the fray
The anguish of the mother of the boy who goes away.
You may boast men’s deeds of glory, you may tell their courage great,
But to die is easier service than alone to sit and wait,
And I hail the little mother, with the tearstained face and grave,
Who has given the flag a soldier – she’s the bravest of the brave.
And that banner we are proud of, with its red and blue and white
Is a lasting tribute holy to all mothers’ love of right.
A Father’s Tribute - Edgar A. Guest
I don’t know what they’ll put him at, or what his post may be;
I cannot guess the task that waits for him across the sea,
But I have known him through the years, and when there’s work to do,
I know he’ll meet his duty well, I’ll swear that he’ll be true.
I sometimes fear that he may die, but never that he’ll shirk;
If death shall want him, death must go and take him at his work;
This splendid sacrifice he makes is filled with terrors grim,
And I have many thoughts of fear, but not one fear of him.
The foe may rob my life of joy, the foe may take my all,
And desolate my days shall be if he shall have to fall,
But this I know, whate’er may be the grief that I must face,
Upon his record there will be no blemish of disgrace.
His days have all been splendid days, there lies no broken trust
Along the pathway of his youth to molder in the dust;
Honor and truth have marked his ways, in him I can be glad;
He is as fine and true a son as ever a father had.
Ardean Anvik is a resident of Shelton.