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Roll Call for the Absent

This poem was written in 1943 by Dr. John Ashton, Class of 1906, at the request of E.E. McQuillen, Class of 1920, secretary of The Association of Former Students. The original title was "The Heroes' Roll Call."

Varied versions of this poem have emerged over the years, but the version below is as Dr. Ashton originally wrote it in honor of the Aggie defenders of Corregidor during World War II.

 

In many lands and climes, this April day
Proud sons of Texas A & M unite.
Our loyalty to country, school, we pay,
And seal our pact with bond of common might.

We live again those happy days of yore,
On campus, field, in classroom, hall, at drill.
Fond memory brings a sigh--but nothing more:
Now we are men, and life is one a great thrill!

On fortress isle one year ago today,*
A group of gallant Aggies, led by Moore,
Held simple rites which to us all doth say:
The spirit shall prevail o'er cannon roar!

They thought of home and all we hold most dear:
Where are they now--those boys we knew so well?
Ask of the winds, let smile repress a tear,
Think only of their glory when they fell!

Corregidor! forever more a hallowed name
To countless sons of Texans yet unborn;
Symbolic like, it stands for deathless fame:
A shrine sublime till Resurrection morn!

Softly call the muster,
Let comrade answer, “Here!”
Their spirits hover ‘round us:
As if to bring us cheer!
Mark them "present" in our hearts,
We’ll meet some other day.
There is no Death, but Life Eterne
For heroes such as they!


by Dr. John Ashton, Class of 1906


* In the third stanza, it was intended that each year, the number of years since the 1942 Corregidor Muster would be inserted.

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