In mud-grimed uniforms of horizon blue,
Who, at hand-grips with death, smile,
Who face and suffer agony that Freedom and Right
may not perish from the earth,
With nothing of hero in garb or pose,
Yet shelter a hero's soul,
I have carried,
A vous, mes vieux, je lève mon verre
I dedicate these lines.
Monastir, Serbia. April 18, 1917.
Lest those who have read the bombastic accounts of American journals be misled, let it be stated: the men of the American Ambulance have not conducted the Great War nor been its sole participants. Nor would France have lapsed into desuetude but for their aid. They have but assisted in a useful work. So far from desiring to pose as heroes, none realize better than they how insignificant has been their part compared to the real hero of this war---the obscure soldier in the trench.
The Americans have received far more than they have given. No man can have served in this war with the French without having grown stronger through their courage, gentler through their courtesy, and nobler through their devotion. Yet the serving of the Republic of the Tri-color has not made us love less the Republic of the Stars and Stripes. Always it was of the States we thought when the chorus rose:
"Here's to the land that gave us birth,
Here's to the flag she flies,
Here's to her sons, the best of earth,
Here's to her smiling skies,"
thought, mayhap, some merry-eyed Parisienne marraine was visioned as the song continued:
Here's to the heart that beats for me,
True as the stars above,
Here's to the day when mine she'll be,
Here's to the girl I love.
As to the pages which follow, may it be offered in excuse for their egocentricity that they are in the nature of a journal based on personal experiences. And in apology for their crudity may it be advanced that they were written under abnormal and often uncomfortable conditions, sometimes humped up in an ambulance, wrapped in a blessé blanket, while outside the snow came down, sometimes in a dugout as the shells whistled overhead, sometimes in a "flea-bag" when it was necessary to lay down the pen frequently and blow on numbed fingers or, mayhap, at night, in a wind-swept barn, by the light of a guttering candle.