A Hero's Passing By
The organist played softly
As the people tip-toed in,
To sit in solemn silence
'Til the service would begin.
The altar was banked with flowers
Most beautiful to be seen -
Surrounded the flag-draped coffin
Of a United States Marine.
The pastor spoke words of comfort
And told of hope beyond the grave;
And of the blessed assurance of re-uniting
With this young hero - courageous and brave.
The command was quietly given
And six marines marched down the aisle,
To accompany the flag-draped coffin
Of a hero on his last mile.
Through the streets of town the cars moved now
As occupants rode - grim of face
With thoughts confused and heavy hearts -
Toward a hero's final resting place.
Past children playing in the street;
A man with ladder, paint and brush;
A woman washing windows; my heart called,
"Hey, you people, what's the rush?
Stop your work! and stop that ball game!
Pause a moment; where's your pride!
Don't you know that while in battle
Another young Marine has died?"
Six Marines? No, there were seven;
For there at the graveside stood another;
And when the flag was carefully folded,
It was given to the hero's brother.
And who can know the brother's heart-ache
Mingled with a comrade's pride
As to his mother he presented
The flag for which a hero died.
He didn't hear the rifle's salute
Or taps that sounded and echoed once more
Or did he? Oh, yes, I am sure
He watched with the angels on Heaven's shore.
And when the battle here is ended
And Heaven's gates swing open wide,
It may be a young Marine hero
Who ushers you inside.