Sandersville, GA (April 4, 2016) -
Like many early "Baby Boomers," my first knowledge of music from a record player came via the old 78 RPM shellac discs; and most of them were from the 30's and 40's, including lots of songs from the war years. A favorite was "The Duckworth Chant" by Vaughn Monroe.
Duckworth himself, a native of Sandersville, Georgia, probably didn't give it a second thought that his little ditty would be a hit song. During World War II the public was looking for anything that would help them identify with their GI's. Although not fully immersing themselves in the blood, guts, and gore of what the new recruits were facing, the public did learn their cadence counts. When the simple cadence got the Hollywood treatment it took off and every USO tour had at least one singer, or group, that would belt out the Duckworth Chant and bring a rueful smile to those in the audience.
I'm glad that Duckworth is remembered here in Sandersville with this monument. One man, however insignificant, can frequently do something to bring a smile to others if he is given the opportunity. Click on the audio player and hear the original version as recorded to a GI VDisc in 1945. Imagine you are on a hot "Grinder," taking the first steps to be a real soldier, sailor, or airman. Sweat is pouring from under your cap into your eyes and it stings. The DI is looking at you like you are the next target, and the guy behind you is out of step and walking on the back ofl your boots. Joy is not the word that comes to mind, but for some reason, when the boots of the entire company hit the ground in unison, you can't stop the grin. You all did it! You stepped off properly, made the last turn without stumbling, and your rifle suddenly isn't the burden it first was - it's the symbol that brings you all together. And when your voice joins a hundred others you can't be anything but proud to serve.