One by one old soldiers die,
One by one they are no more,
And their comrades mourn their loss,
As they leave this mortal shore.
Standing by an open grave,
One more flag-draped coffin rests,
Friends and comrades gather ’round,
As they pay their last respects.
When the solemn rites are done,
And the chaplain turns away,
Mournful notes of bugle stir,
Mem’ries of a bygone day.
One by one they drop from rank,
Just as did the blue and gray,
Soldier boys in olive drab,
Destined, too, to pass away.
I look into the newest grave,
Then turn my blurred eyes to the sky,
Battalions of once-living comrades,
Seem to march in my heart’s eye.
Far beyond that field of blue,
I seem to hear a martial strain,
As they march and counter-march,
Phantoms of my tired brain.
Few there are to mourn old soldiers,
Fewer still of them remain,
Who alone seem to acknowledge,
What they gave was not in vain.
I am comforted to know,
They’ll never more need to be brave,
‘Midst the falling shot and shell,
… Or standing by a comrade’s grave.
Chester E. Baker wrote “Doughboy’s Diary.” He was a veteran of Co. F, 112th Inf. Regt., 28th Div., AEF. The above poem was one he wrote after attending a buddy’s funeral.