to the
boys of the

Madie Arnott Barr

In sunshine of beautiful summer,
When all nature was smiling and gay,
And the waters, deep blue and sparkling,
Bejeweled San Diego’s fair bay;
The Bennington, manned by its sailors,
Lay at anchor not far from the wharf,
Steaming and panting---a thing of life---
As if impatient to journey north.

Our city in compliment favored,
This same government boat in its wait,
Little dreaming of its destruction
Through explosion---its death-knell and fate.
Through the rush of business and pleasure
Came a rumble, a thud and a roar,
Then---cinders and smoke and cruel steam
Made a hell on that vessel of war.

The heart of our city voiced its cry,
For it sobbed o’er the wounded and dead;
The doors of our city were opened wide
And to sympathy’s balm they were led.
All business was now at a standstill
And all pleasures were vanished complete;
While boys from the Bennington suffered
Our fair city bowed low at their feet.

Words fail me to picture the anguish
And suffering of many a lad;
To see it, to hear it, to know it,
Made strong men weep and women go mad
To many death came as a rescue
(After message to mother and wife),
And the sacred trust they left behind
Will be treasured by many through life.

Mute lips told us plainly the story,
As they suffered, or died like a prince;
And our city went into mourning,
Whose depression has reigned ever since.
Drape the flag they loved closely o’er them;
Let them rest---for their life’s work is done,
They’ve gone to a higher tribunal
To receive the reward they have won.

O’er the sunny heights at Point Loma,
Where the roar of the sea can be heard,
In one long grave they were gently laid,
With the volley, the taps, and kind word;
Can we ever forget (who saw them)?
They were faithful in service and true
And gave up their lives for the navy,
So we honor those brave boys in blue.

From those who have lingered and suffered
And are maimed for the rest of their life,
Let us learn the lesson of patience
For they harbor no censure or strife.
The nation has lowered the stars and stripes
And it floats for the boys at half-mast,
While sobered are all earth’s multitudes
By the Bennington casualty cast.

The rich and the poor, the high and low,
Stood as one man at the new-made graves---
“Ashes to ashes; and dust to dust!”
Was echoed o’er the Pacific waves.
We honor the boys of the navy
With a hand-clasp and welcome on shore,
We would raise a lasting monument
That will shine on the heights evermore.

[An explosion of a boiler on the U.S.S. Bennington,
On July 21st, 1905, while anchored in the harbor of
San Diego, California, caused the death of sixty-six and
the injuring, mainly by serious scalds, of fifty others of
the crew of one hundred and ninety-seven. It occurred
at 10:28 A. M., the vessel being about to depart for
San Francisco.]