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Opinion: A Sincere and Glowing Compliment

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While reading a book of sermons from a preacher from the WWI era, I came across an article in which the American troops were described in the most glowing terms by those they were protecting in France during the war.  The article was by a man named Leon Daudet.  He was the editor of Action Franciase.  The article follows unedited by this writer and is shared in an effort to remind our people of the way the people of the world viewed America and her troops.  I am publishing this article during this particular week as Armistice Day is celebrated on Thursday Nov. 11.  On this day in 1918 the Allied powers signed a ceasefire agreement with Germany at Compiegne, France which agreement ended WWI.

The following report is credited to The Associated Press and is exactly as it appeared in 1918.

Paris, Sept 28….Leon Daudet, son of Alphonse Daudet and editor of the Action Francaise recently visited some scenes of American activity behind the lines and his enthusiasm is unbounded.  

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“What cordial frankness they show,” he writes of the American soldiers, “To the inhabitants they offer their bread, preserves and cigarettes with a charming gesture which seems to say, “Are we not brothers?”  They are full of politeness to every woman, no matter what her age, and of kindness to every child.

“In a station, in the middle of the night, I saw some poor little kiddies, the family of refugees, sleeping on the floor.  Two American officers passed.  They stopped, looked, shook their heads, then without a word, threw over the youngsters their overcoats which they were carrying on their arms.  They themselves sat down near by and waited for two hours in the cold air of the dawn.”

A French aviator, instructor at a flying school for Americans, said to me, “They are remarkable pupils; their docility and modesty are wonderful.  They learn rapidly and retain everything, and their gratitude to their teachers is extreme.  They burn to avenge the devastation of France.”

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After speaking of the American Red Cross hospital trains with the greatest admiration, Daudet concludes: 

“To the French, to the English, still full of valor but exhausted by four years of terrible war, the Americans are bringing their fresh blood.  The older fighters, seeing this glorious aid arrive, understanding its valor and vigor, have felt their forces revive.  Hope, the certainty of victory, have abounded in a single leap to the marvelous level of the beginning, and by victory, I mean the definite crushing of accursed Germany.  I do not know that the world has ever known a sight so grand or one that even resembles it.”

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In a day in which we have so much being said about the stance of America in the world, I thought it might be good for our people to be reminded of the influence we have had and should have in these days.  The outcome of WWI was a direct result of America getting involved and the testimony of this Frenchman lets us know that very clearly.  America has the finest Military in the world and we should be extremely proud of them.

Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com 

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