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chill to the very marrow of one's bones. We could hear the slow, heavy tramp of feet before the forms of the first company loomed out of the mist. As they filed by we were deeply sensible that they were typical of many other regiments who, in those last terrible days of exposure and fighting, had chopped and hewn their way through tangled underbrush and barbed wire, attacking with extraordinary bravery and success, formidable trench systems and lines of natural defense that stretched from the Argonne to the Meuse River. In the fresh vigor of youth they had gone into that inferno of fire with every company complete. Out of it they came a victorious few, for the company with more than sixty men and one officer left was an exception.
Bringing up the rear of the last company and some distance behind his comrades was a big Indian. His round face, deeply lined, was like a pumpkin bronzed by the September sun. His hat was gone and his clothes were torn and covered with mud, while a canteen and a gun swung carelessly from his shoulders. There was no elasticity in his step and whatever of romance his figure might have possessed had disappeared in weeks of weary fighting. Close behind him trailed an ungainly, half starved French dog. Together they looked like a soiled and crumpled page torn from the great book of history, very dark, but illumined by a gleam of prophecy.
The streets of the village were almost deserted, for the meager populace was not yet astir. A peasant woman with a long gnarled stick was driving from the doorstep a flock of obdurate, scolding geese. Across the way there was a high wall covered over with a crimson tinted vine. A door in this wall opened and an aged priest came out, dressed in a long black cassock and wearing a flat broad-brimmed hat. For a moment he stood watching the passing troops; then he raised his hand, mumbled a blessing and went his way toward the little chapel near by. Out of the mist loomed a grey motor car, flying the insignia of a major-general. Quickly it sped by and disappeared in the fog, on its way to the battle-front. There were no flags flying, no martial music stirred the jaded pulse, no multitudes cheered these silent world conquerors. It was just grim war, robbed of its popular glamor, but clothed about with an indefinable glory.
Who will ever forget these soldier boys as they trudged along, leg weary, hungry and seemingly dazed! The subtle, recuperative power of youth had not yet had its opportunity; hence there were deeply lined faces and gray hairs and hollow eyes and nervous jerking bodies, but never a suspicion of discontent. For days and nights they had fought unceasingly, often going twenty-four hours without hot food, and always sleeping in the wet and the mud, without even a single blanket to keep out the night chill, while all about them, in the line and for three kilometers back of it, shells split the air and churned the ground, leaving behind the horrible memory of mangled bodies and flying flesh and the smell of warm blood. Well we knew the hell they had been through, but we also knew equally well that it was not physical courage that had sustained them but fellowship with the intangible things for which they were fighting. The man who controls his emotions and impulses and of his own volition deliberately goes under shell fire for a noble cause, knows, if he is at all conscious of his mental processes, that for a time at least he has died unto the material world and is liv. ing in a new found world of unseen realities and spiritual values. He no longer sees with human eyes but as God sees. This is not the isolated experience of a few mystic temperaments, but one common to thousands of normal, practically-minded lads.
It very often happens that when a man is deprived of his physical sight he can see much more accurately. This only goes to prove that men have the capacity for spiritual vision if they would learn the secret of its development. Sergeant Irving Clair, of the 19th Infantry, was blinded by shell explosion at the second Battle of the Marne, on the memorable night of July 14, 1918. When America entered the war, young Clair was a third-year law student at Temple University, where eyesight is of almost incalculable value. Now he is blind, with his future all before him, yet, with manly vigor, he resents any reference to his injury as a great sacrifice, and always replies quickly with these words:
“No, I have not paid too high a price, and besides I have gained a two-fold power of vision. I can see with my memory and I can see with my soul.” Those who have talked with him say that over and over he will repeat these words as if to assure his friends that he has abundant compensation for his loss of eyes. When they are skeptical he will particularize often as follows:
"I can see the little French village on the edge of the Marne battlefield, with its wonderful big fountain which I loved to watch sparkling in the sunshine. On the 13th of July we rode all day in a motor truck reaching Conde-en-Brie late in the afternoon. I can see the bright red poppies nodding in the fields as we passed by, and the blue and yellow wild flowers that grew along the wayside, and the vast loveliness of the hills and the sky. Oh, it was a wonderful day, and life never seemed so dear to us boys, but there was not one of us who did not know down in his heart that the things we were going to fight for were worth all it would cost. We somehow felt that we were in the hands of an unseen power that was hurrying us on through the clash of battle out into a larger and more beautiful life than anything we had ever known before. I now understand what that life is.”
Perhaps it is this sensing of spiritual realities that gives so many soldiers what may be called a noble contempt for death. In attaining this attitude a man first fears death instinctively, then he conquers fear by an act of the will, and after that he forgets through absorption in the thing which he is called upon to do. When the truth fought for looms larger than the fighter, heroism becomes a sublime self-forgetfulness and death a step toward the fullest realization of life. "I have seen with the eyes of God," writes Donald Hankey in "A Student in Arms." "I have seen the naked souls of men, stripped of circumstance. Rank and reputation, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, manners and uncouthness, these I saw not. I saw the naked souls of men. I saw who were contemptible and who honorable. I have seen with the eyes of God. I have seen the vanity of the temporal and the glory of the eternal. I have despised comfort and honored pain. I have understood the victory of the Cross. O death, where is thy sting? Nunc dimittis, Domine." How else can one explain the almost innumerable acts of individual and group heroism in connection with the world war, any one of which, set apart, would make an incomparable epic? When that heroic battalion of the 77th Division had been surrounded by the enemy in the heart of the Argonne Forest, it became necessary to get food to them. The following is the official account: "On October 6, 1918, Lieutenant Erwin J. Bleckley, with his pilot, Second Lieutenant Harold E. Coettler, left the airdrome late in the afternoon on their second trip to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division, which had been cut off by the enemy in the Argonne Forest. Having been subjected on the first trip to