Among the items my great-uncle copied was one that he apparently had time to type up.  It is a poem called “The Worried Soldier” by the British-born American poet, Edgar A. Guest.  This seems to have had wide distribution, not surprising since Guest had a newspaper column, “Just Folks.”  It appeared in 1918.

He was dreaming through the drilling, he was half a step behind; / He was marching like a soldier who had something on his mind. / And the Colonel, who was watching as his boys were on review, / Couldn’t understand the trouble, but the sergeant-major knew.

Once he broke the line by missing the command to make a wheel, / And they thundered curses at him till his brain began to reel. / His captain called him lazy, his lieutenant scorned him, too, / And they wondered why he faltered, but the sergeant-major knew.

When at last the drill was over and they had been dismissed, / They put the blundering soldier on the extra duty list. / But the sergeant-major saved him when the Colonel heard him say, / “He hasn’t had a letter from his folks in many a day.”

Would you help him in his battle, would you keep his mind in trim? / Then send some cheerful message every day or two to him. / Every soldier understands it, when they are passing out the mail, / The boy who is forgotten is the boy who’s sure to fail.


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.