call me 'Prince of the Sioux'! You call me the victor! Let me
tell you the story of the struggle and triumph in No Man's Land
that we may better know and understand the Peace that is ours ...
yours and mine, as Americans.
"My frame was chilled
fron the cold mist, and the long night watch had tried my every
strength. The mud seemed to laugh and mock as I paced my post,
and I cursed it. I welcomed the cold numbness that stood in
my flesh for it relieved the bites of the damnable lice. Then,
the ghostly light would make my blood stop cold, as I would stand
and watch, and listen, and watch, when a flare would flash like a
hundred of wretchedness.
The aches of y bones
filled me with a plague of pain, but it could not be long until the
hour of dawn when the clash with the foe would begin. Then, when that
hour would come I could forget my misery and fight to the death for the
homeland! The homeland ... how mysteriously I stopped with that sacred
thought and looked up out of the trench at the flickering stars of the
heavens. They, the little gems of purity twinkling over the land that
soon would be a screeching flood of hell. But I stood there in wonder
at the meaning of their presence. Then, in my bewilderment I thought I
felt the heavenly touch of a little soft hand on my forehead. Surely
the little trembling lips of my mother touched my cheek. Then ... then
I understood the meaning of the myriads of stars. They were prayers
spoken from the burning hearts of millions of mothers asking God to
comfort and give courage to the defenders.
"I hung my head in pitiful shame. I had cursed the mud and the cold and
the lice. I had moaned with aching bones. But how meager was my pain in
measure with the heartaches, the fearful illusions and the suspense of
those millions of little mothers far over the sea.
"A tear stole out of my eye somehow, and fell in the mud, and blessed
it. It fell as a prayer of thanksgiving to God that I was there ...
even me, vested with the privilege of defending the honor and
traditions of the United States of America! What greater honor could my
country have given me than to permit me to be there ... there, where a
nation gives of her blood to break down the will of the extortioners.
What cleaner mission had God for me than to give back the life I owed
to Him, that Liberty might live and tyranny die.
pulse quickened. The hour of conflict was at hand! At my right and left
were the lads from the Rockies, from the East and North and South. We
heard the shout and went over the top. The enemy caught our move. A
screen of hell tore through our lines ... a volley of lead and steel.
We returned the fire and leaped out ahead. A blast! My senses were
gone! I was thrown to the ground like a stone! A shell had torn a
ghastly hole in the line. Screeching lead flashing through like
lightning, yet on rushed the Yanks! But, lo! ... someone was lifting me
to my feet again ... two men ... two gray haired men were at my side
... one in blue, the other in gray! Their faces were stern ... they
pointed ahead ... into the smoke, where I beheld the third, ... a
soldier of '76, the fourth was a man of '98 who was beckoning me!
Then I knew ... I understood the men that pointed me on! They were
spirits of American traditions that were there to steel my courage and
"I dashed into the smoke and opened fire. I was deafened by the roar of
the bursting shells, yet, I heard a voice ... a clear, manly voice,
saying, "On! my boy, on! I knew that voice ... a voice of love, and it
filled me again with courage. The voice of my dad at my ear ... he was
there with me in the battle. I saw his face in the flash of my gun ...
he too, was pointing me on! Then I bared my teeth to the hiss of the
bullets. The gas was blistering my flesh, but I saw my buddies surging
on ... to my right and left they surged. They would not stop ... yet
the shells poured down and cut and tore the line. And on they rushed!
They filled the gaps. A sting, and I felt the crack of a bone. The
shrapnel had scoffed at my onward rush. I fell with a miserable
thud. The pain was hell, but my thoughts were worse ... it seemed that
I was through ... through with the fight with only a wound! Surely that
could not be! On went the Yanks! I could see them pass, and I ... there
was a breath against my face, panting and hot, and a lift at my back,
and a voice ... dad's trembling voice ... 'On! On! my boy!' The spirit
of America thrilled me again and I charged once more toward the wire.
How men kept on, God only knows, for the shot screeched through like
rain. The gas had seared and stung my flesh and shrapnel crippled me,
but what was that to the pain of those who came to point me on. Old
gray heads with bodies bent, going out ahead ... ah, true, they were
spirits formed in the smoke, but their presence was the will of aged
men who had planted the seed of freedom. They came to protect the
life of the plants that grew from the soil of liberty. They were not
through till their traditions were dead and the faith of their country
wrested from their men. And the courage of their assurance that they
had not lived in vain was the spirit that had banished our fears.