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Men in the army came to see that it was not for the outward form but for the inward moral relationship of the home that they were fighting, and that it was for this purpose that they were born. This truth is well illustrated by an incident which occurred one night while riding from Tours to Chaumont. I engaged in conversation with a young lieutenant of infantry, who occupied the same compartment with me. He was a splendid youth, vigorous and intelligent, but very restless. About midnight he became a bit irritable at the numerous and lengthy delays of the train.
“You are evidently in a great hurry to get to your destination,” I ventured, not wishing for military reasons to inquire as to the object of his journey.
“Yes, I am in a hurry," he replied with emphasis. “I want to join my company at Toul before the St. Mihiel offensive begins."
Then he told me briefly, and with admirable humility, his story. He had gone into the ChateauThierry fight as a corporal in the 110th U. S. Infantry. There were two hundred and fifty-four men in the company when they entered the battle on July 15th. The company came out with seventeen men and he was in charge of this heroic, immortal remnant. While in the act of reporting to his Colonel, he was struck with a piece of shrapnel. The Government had made him a lieutenant for his superior conduct upon the field. He was now well and eager to join his company and participate in the first great American offensive.
“Would you care to tell me,” I persisted, deeply conscious that I was looking into the soul of a superb man, "just why it is that, after going through such an experience, you are so eager to re
“I will tell you,” he responded with deep earnestness, as he drew from his pocket a leather case containing two photographs, one of his mother and the other of his sweetheart. As he handed them to me for inspection, he drew close, leaning over and looking directly into my eyes, as though he would read my inmost thoughts. After I looked with real admiration upon the two faces before me, he continued with burning words, “I have seen the devastated homes of France, I have heard the sobs of violated women and the agonizing cry of frightened children, and I know what this war means to the world if the Hun wins. You have been looking at the portraits of two of the dearest and purest women God ever made, and I would not be true to the mother who bore me, nor could I ever ask a pure woman to marry me and bring children into this world if I had not first done all in my power to crush the brutal foe who would otherwise some day invade my own home. God pity the men back in America and over in Great Britain who, far removed from the scene of real conflict, do not see clearly the issue for which we are fighting.”
“Bully! Fine for you, old chap," chimed in an English aviator, who was on his way to join the American Air Service on the Nancy front. “But there is many a fellow back home who does not yet see it."
With the warmest enthusiasm I commended these brave words, but I could not refrain from pressing the thought one step further.
“What is the difference," I asked, "between the brute who smashes up a home with a sword and violates a woman in the name of war, and the skunk of a man who, by insidious immorality, accomplishes the same end with the sanction of a divorce court?"
“There is no difference,” was the quick and decisive reply. "Absolutely none." And this war is going to compel men to see a lot of these things in a wholly different light."
The English aviator and an American army doctor now joined us and in the conversation which followed I seemed to see a new day ahead for the world. In our discussion we reached several very definite conclusions.
1. The first one was that the doctrine of free love and polygamy, drawn from the analogy of the animal world, and so flauntingly flung in the face of a mildly protesting social conscience, is based upon an entirely false inference. The bird remains true to his single mate until the fledglings leave the nest. The lion, true to his animal instincts, stands between one mother with her cubs and all who would ravage and destroy, until those cubs are able to fight their own way in the jungle. With the bird and the animal, the period of infancy and training is but a few weeks or months, but in the case of man nature has extended this period to about twenty years. Therefore the man or the woman who, for any reason whatever, violates the marriage relationship or breaks up a home, whether with children or not, functions in society on a plane lower than the animal world. Incompatibility, desertion, failure to support, drunkenness, and adultery are all anti-social and anti-moral, and are as a consequence the objects of inexorable condemnation.
2. The simple, elemental instincts and emotions that cluster about the home, so long despised by the theologian and ignored by the teacher are in reality tidal forces moving humanity Godward. It is therefore the plain business both of the public school and the Church school to get back into the home and together seek to spiritualize and socialize these primary springs of action until they become spiritual aspirations, moral ideals, habits of conduct and Christian tendencies to behavior. In the home is the fountain source of all the social and religious life that flows forth to quicken and beautify both the State and the Church. If life is allowed to become poisoned at its source then much of our boasted education and democracy is meaningless. That the home holds the power to create nobility of manhood and shape the destiny of nations was abundantly proven by innumerable events connected with the world war. In one of the very most recent books on religious education, just from the press in fact, the author takes the position that because of the broken down condition of so many homes, the terribly crowded condition of others, the vast number of conflicting social engagements, the pressure of industrial and business life and the general indifference of parents, the Church school will have to take over many of the educational and religious functions of the home. This is an exceedingly dangerous position to take. Is it not better to take the position that neither the public school nor the Church school can be said to function at all properly until they actually get back into the home and help create it as the primary educational instrument? This conception of their task will change fundamentally the whole organization and work of these two institutions and we confidently predict that these changes will speedily take place.
3. We were all too homesick for the touch of a woman's hand and too full of the romance of real love to believe in eugenics as the sole guiding force in marriage. But we were decidedly of the opinion that both the High Schools and the Church schools were terribly negligent in not giving more time and thought to the preparation of young men and women for the most natural, inevitable and holy relationship into which human destiny might ever lead them.