_The proof of a man is the danger test_,
_That shows him up at his worst or best_.
He didn’t seem to care for work, he wasn’t much at school.
His speech was slow and commonplace– you wouldn’t call him fool.
And yet until the war broke out you’d calmly pass him by,
For nothing in his make-up or his way would catch your eye.
He seemed indifferent to the world, the kind that doesn’t care–
That’s satisfied with just enough to eat and drink and wear;
That doesn’t laugh when others do or cry when others weep,
But seems to walk the wakeful world half dormant and asleep;
Then came the war, and soldiers marched and drums began to roll,
And suddenly we realized his body held a soul.
We little dreamed how much he loved his Country and her Flag;
About the glorious Stars and Stripes we’d never heard him brag.
But he was first to volunteer, while brilliant men demurred,
He took the oath of loyalty without a faltering word,
And then we found that he could talk, for one remembered night,
There came a preaching pacifist denouncing men who fight,
And he got up in uniform and looked at him and said:
‘I wonder if you ever think about our soldiers dead.
All that you are to-day you owe some soldier in his grave;
If he had been afraid to fight, you still would be a slave.’
If he had died a year ago beneath a peaceful sky,
Unjust our memory would have been; of him our tongues would lie.
We should have missed his splendid worth, we should have called him frail
And listed him among the weak and sorry men who fail.
But few regrets had marked his end; he would have passed unmourned–
Perhaps by those who knew him best, indifferently scorned.
But now he stands among us all, eyes bright and shoulders true,
A strong defender of the faith; a man with work to do;
And if he dies, his name shall find its place on history’s scroll;
The great chance has revealed to men the splendor of his soul.