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WABASH COLLEGE - tribute to their fallen in WWI
Source: Crawfordsville Review Jan 7, 1919 p 1
Fitting memorial services were conducted from the chapel at Wabash College yesterday morning in honor the Wabash students and alumni who sacrificed their lives during the world war. The exercises were conducted at the regular chapel period which was lengthened to appropriate the time necessary for the occasion. A quartet composed of Prof. Cowles; Oldfather; AA McCain and Rev. Wharton, furnished special music selections for the occasion.
The principal address was delivered by Pres. GL Mackintosh: When the US declared war on Germany April 6, 1917, the response in this old chapel was immediate and satisfactory. A member of the faculty serving for one year, was the only exception to an otherwise unanimous expression. This is worthy of mention only that it may be said that one may read much and receive university degrees and yet fail of wisdom. Before the end of May 1917, 86 men from Wabash accepted in the officers’ training camp at Ft. Benjamin Harrison. Of this number 83 received commissions.
Until the end of the war there was a constant drift of our men to the training camps. I have not heard of a Wabash man who south to avoid service. I trust no such man exists. I am not attempting to lay claim to extraordinary patriotism on the part of this institution, but I do say we did what we could. We do not yet know how many stars might be on our flag. The number is estimated between six and seven hundred and may exceed the latter figure. We are not boasting of our part in the war. We entered late and we were beginning to take a large share in the fighting when the end came.
Nevertheless it may be said that without the aid of the American Army and Navy the war would not have ended in 1918 or even in 1920 with an undoubted decision in favor of the allies. It is enough to say that wherever Americans opposed the huns on land or sea they demonstrated their superiority. We would not say that our men exceeded the British under General French, who made the wonderful retreat from Mons, or the French, who would not let the Germans pass at Verdun or the Canadians at the first battle of Ypres and Vimy Ridge or the Australians, battling with the impossible at Gallopoli. We do, however, fondly affirm and will constantly believe that the men who stopped the last German drive at Chateau Thierry, and reduced the salient of St. Mihiel in double quick time and drove the Huns headlong from the Argonne region could not be defeated by any similar number of men that ever drew breath.
The American soldier has demonstrated that he possesses every high soldierly quality; courage, good humor and chivalry. To the extent of several hundred thousand, he is now encamped on German territory. Yet we have heard no complaint of his conduct from those fastidious gentlemen who sacked and robbed Belgium and northern France. We have every right to be proud of the men of our Army and Navy. They have done all they were given to do with extraordinary faithfulness and success. We are now having the joy of giving a welcome to those who return and providing for their welfare. But not all shall return. Many thousands of them sleep beyond waking in the field of northern France and Belgium and in quiet places here at home. Here and there are homes shadowed and wistful for all the coming years. Chateau Thierry and St. Mihiel were costly. The best offering and sacrifice of America were made there and in other holy places. Forever these are shrines to liberty.
Comparatively few of our boys perished.
These men sat on these benches in here in the old chapel and attended our classes. They were all worthy men. Some of them were above the ordinary in character and ability. Now they are among the immortals. It was their fortune to escape the tragedies and disappointments of middle life and the ennui of old age, and to pass quickly into the world invisible. In the full tide of youth they ceased to be citizens of earth. They died without fear. It is said that many of our American boys as they went over the top felt that God was near. Surely they were not mistaken. The eternal Father agonized over the battle line as a father pitieth his children. Some at least, of these Wabash men wrote of their absolute confidence that God would take care of them in life and death. One might envy these men who fought well and died that our type of civilization might not perish from the earth. What did they die for?
To avenge the wrongs of Belgian women and girls and the death of those who went down in the Lusitania and other tragedies of the sea; to bring the light of hope to Servia, Armenia and other plundered peoples; to uphold the traditions of Washington and Lincoln; as opposed to the kultur of the Hohenzollern; to save France from extinction as a great nation; to keep the English language a vehicle of civilized thought the world over; to end war if possible and if not at least to make ruthless war untenable. It is clear enough now that the US entered this war as the logical result of its own aspirations and history. The German theory and our theory of government each backed by millions of intelligent people could not for long exist on a world as small as our planet without dangerous collision. The points of difference were more numerous and more potent than the points of agreement. Being what they were and believing as they did the Hohenzollerns and their satelites were logical enough in launching the war. Being what we are and thinking as we do we would in the nature of things oppose them. It was impossible and it is impossible for Americans to submit to dictation. It was impossible that Imperial Germany should not in the long run seek to impose her notions on other nations , including America. Therefore either Imperial Germany or the English speaking nations and the French must be destroyed. It was recognized from the beginning by far-seeing men that there was no discharge in this war. It must be a fight to the finish and so far as imperial Germany is concerned, it is finished.
With all the sorrow and loss it has cost us, yet let us thank God we were in this war for 18 months. If France and Great Britain and Italy had alone borne the burden of the struggle either to a favorable or unfavorable conclusion it would have been supremely tragical for the US. In the one case the liberty of our fathers would have been saved without our help; in the other we would have taken orders from Germany for an indefinite period of time. Terrible as war may be there are yet worse things.
Tragical as the death of a strong and joyous man may be, there are deeper tragedies. If we could recall to life Watkins, Kerns, Wilson, Watson, Settles, Sloan, Harrison, Warbritton, Pickett, Doster and Carson, at the expense of losing the war, or still worse of not being in the war at all, we would not dare to do it. Their parents, their friends would not dare to do it. There is something limitless sin such sacrifices. We cannot set boundaries. God Himself placed the penalty of such sacrifice upon Himself when He gave his son. As for us to whom is committed the life of this college for a period our duty is clear in regard to our fallen brothers. We must hold them in everlasting honor and remembrance and in time we must make some fitting outward token to our lasting regard for them. - typed by kbz
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