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They march on, then, the French, to the statue of Kleber in the Place Kleber. Every city has its traditional centre. Strasbourg's is there. A fine free space with a great bronze of Napoleon's General Kleber in its heart, (Kleber was tolerated here by the Germans, who chose, as they so insolently choose with many things, to call him one of them,) and set about with charming buildings, old Alsatian, the grace of Louis Quinze in their wall lines and sharp pitched roofs. Here General Gouraud halted. There was an instant of rich silence as the soldier raised his sword to the salute. Then cheers, and cheers, and cheers! It was the shout of floodtide, of seas washing up to immemorial heights. A poem of Browning's—I have forgotten the flow of the lines—comes into my mind as I write. Something of roses all the way and the air a mist of swaying bells. It was like that, Strasbourg. The air was a mist of bells and fine flags, and shouts and tears and smiles and hearts long repressed at last open. Gouraud rode away, but Strasbourg danced when he had gone at the foot of Kleber's statue, and Kleber in martial bronze, wreathed and flowered, seemed to live again and smile.
"I, who am French," said General Gouraud to me a day or two later at his dinner table, "even I did not dream it would be like that when we came in." And as he spoke his eyes, blue and clear and clean, gentle deep eyes that can flash fire, clouded with emotion.
CITY IN GALA GARB
And Strasbourg itself, the city? Strasbourg and its people, its streets, its buildings, its movement, its quality? There are certain cities that appeal like certain people—at once to be taken to one's heart. The unspoiled traveler, as apt to receive his impressions as to keep old memories, knows them on the instant. Strasbourg is such a city. Gracious, charming, flowing easily and suavely over wide level areas; here a square, here a garden, a park, here a space of pleasant water; streets suggestive of other epochs, yet animated and vigorous with today; a city clean and fresh and sound that has still escaped the bour
geois platitude. Strasbourg en fete, I must confess, gives me a sense of walking in a mediaeval picture book. The fashion of decorations is so tidy, so, as it were, Christmas-like. The pine boughs, the long-looped green garlands, the prim rosettes of tricolor, the strung lanterns, all make, against gray-white walls, a note so harmonious with the staid charms of the houses. As I write I look up to the aged house opposite, to its three windows, iron-grilled, where hang three very neat white placards, blackly lettered and framed in evergreen: "Vive la France, Vive les Allies, Vive Wilson!" They emblem the neat character of the people.
The streets are walled with flags— French, Alsatian, British, Italian, Belgian, and American. American! You and I who are Americans, what is it, then, to see our flag, ours, hundreds of them, tossing in the gay air of these liberated provinces? To see the name of the President of the United States placarded and wreathed in foreign lands, to hear it cheered to the echo! We are all sharers in this. Let us thank God. I have but one great regret in this unbounded week, and that is a* regret voiced, too, by the Alsatians and the French. It is the regret that American troops have not been here to take a place in these triumphal entries—so they might have seen what France is to Alsace-Lorraine and what Alsace-Lorraine is to France. And seeing they would have turned homeward overseas to tell to those at home the story of the days when the French came back to their lost provinces. For whatever the profound underlying impulses of these terrible four years have been, it is certain that the retaking of Alsace and Lorraine is a symbol of final accomplishment that appeals richly to the soldier's heart.
But Strasbourg that first day of French entry! It blossomed with its flags. Flags that had lain hidden for years from the brutal German house-to-house visits. Flags that had waved in 1870. Flags that were fashioned yesterday from heaven knows what—sheets, napkins, tablecloths, hastily dyed blue and red overnight. I saw an American flag with six stripes and a field of five stars in a firmament of bluing. An old Frenchwoman said beautifully that day: "Oh, we hadn't enough cloth to make ourselves chemises, but we found enough to make our flags!"
KLEBER'S OLD FLAG
General Gouraud showed me a faded silk flag which rested in a corner of his room. There was an inscription on its field. It was borne, one read, in 1832 at the removal of General Kleber's dead body from the church to the Place Kleber, where it now rests beneath his monument. Three timid old ladies took it to Gouraud the day of his entry. They put it into his hands very simply.
"It is for you," they said. "Our father gave it to us when he died and made us swear to give it to the French when they should come back to Alsace."
They had hidden it in the depths of a sofa in their house, a sofa on which many a German had unsuspectingly sat
"That is Alsace," said the General to me, reverently.
For four years it has been forbidden to speak French in Alsace. Not even so much as Bonjour. Prison for that offense. But five days before the entry French was again spoken. Now the streets are chattering it brokenly. It is in the blood, in the hearts of these people. The children babble it. Their "Feef la France" is delightful. And the crowd roared with glee. Men and women who have not spoken French for years fumble through their memories for forgotten words. An old man, warped and withered, cried out as we passed: "Feef (vive) les—" he hesitated painfully— "Feef les—" Then the word came, "Feef les liberateurs!"
Impressions crowd in faster than the pen can put them down, incoherent impressions, beautiful, solemn, gay—deathless memories. How Strasbourg danced and cheered at every turn. We dined and lunched with unknown hosts, suddenly become friends. We were kissed and hugged by old and young. The dignified streets broke into song. The "Marseillaise!" Everywhere the "Marseillaise." Once they had the tune it was enough. The words seemed to come in
stinctively. Le jour de gloire est arrive! Lads chirped it, whistled it. Girls screamed it at top-lung. Old men, old women shouted it piously. The day of glory had arrived at last. There stands in the heart of Strasbourg an old unassuming house that bears a garlanded word of recall to those who passing glance above its door: "La' Marseillaise' fut chantee pour la premiere fois dans cette maison par Rouget de l'Isle, le 25 Avril, 1792." Small wonder, then, that the immortal air comes familiarly and full from the Strasbourgers' throats in the city where first it was sung,
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.
The very shops made festival with windows filled—for want of modern France—with old long-hidden engravings, Louis XIV., Louis XV.; bright chromos of the soldiers of '70 in the historic red breeches; obsolescent arms of other periods; old French volumes, and I know not what else of touching cherished souvenirs—shops, too, that had changed their names overnight and bore broadsides of white hastily lettered cloth to conceal the German shop names underneath. Rathskellers blossomed into cafes de la Marne, de la Republique. Lodgings ceased to be hofs and were fashionably Hotels de Paris, and where there was a recalcitrant boche the delighted crowds swooped down upon him, shut his doors, banned his wares and went on, mightily amused, to fresh exploits. I can see them now as I put down the pen—how gay and charming they were, the women in their Alsatian costumes, butterflying, laughing, singing, arms linked to placid grinning poilus, whose note of blue was so harmonious with the gray houses and the bright dresses. All day long they wandered up and down, hand-in-hand with victory—enchanting children.
An old man, supported by two other men of middle age, stood at a corner. He was very old and frail. His hands and his body shook senilely, though from time to time with an effort he tried to straighten himself to a soldier's bearing. For he wore the uniform of a soldier and his breast was covered with unfamiliar medals. The uniform was the blue and red of France and '70; the medals were the medals of old campaigns. I stood beside him a moment and took his hand, "My sons have brought me here today," he said, very simply, "that I may look again on French soldiers, mes freres. Now they may take me home. I am content to die."
The wild, dancing, wonderful day turned into night. Rosy globes of paper lanterns shone in windows. Yellow light, rich and smiling, flooded over the charming, sauntering crowds, lit the forests of beautiful flags. And all night long Strasbourg sang the " Marseillaise." Sang it? Was it, so it seemed to me.
Before the place that was once known as the Emperor's stood a bronze statue. The statue of the man who was once William II. of Germany. Quietly, determinedly, placidly, one might almost say, the Strasbourgers gathered there the night that preceded the entry of the French. Five hundred of them tore the image down. It fell with a great brazen clang. They hacked it, battered it, sawed it, chopped it to fragments.
The head of the statue is in the Students' Club today—on the floor in a corner. They use it to spit into.
This might be a record of triumphal entries; but the first marvel of the 22d will scarcely again be wrought. We have seen Gouraud, glorious, mutilated. We have seen again, the 25th, a Marshal of France, surrounded by Generals whose names will one day be spoken as we have been wont to speak the names of Napoleon's Generals. Perhaps, too, with greater admiration. Petain came, the great soldier. I've an impression of a pale, strong, kindly face, Petain's. He and his Generals rode on over the same route that Gouraud had taken, their troops, their bands, gloriously following. Again Strasbourg threw its cap to the skies, wildly cheered its heart out. After he had reviewed the troops the Marshal turned and with an extraordinary simplicity—these men are simple men—embraced his Generals, Castelnau and Gouraud. It was the more touching for
us who knew that Gouraud'g mother but two days before had died.
That day, the 25th, there was a Te Deum sung in the Cathedral of Strasbourg. That sentence as it is written has but little significance, I know. How can I put into words what I should like to say? A Te Deum of victory in the Strasbourg Cathedral. You who know the cathedral—the vast upsweeping spaces, dim and incensed, where stained light slants richly through windows of precious glass—you will need no words.
The great Kleber's sword has been kept piously all these years by Strasbourg—for Kleber was born here.
On the 27th the Commander in Chief of all the allied armies entered the city. I shall speak but little of the panoply and brilliance of that procession. The great Marshal accompanied by Generals de Castelnau and Weygand, rode in magnificently. He gave decorations. He reviewed the troops in the centre of the citadel. And Strasbourg was at his feet. It is not of this I wish to tell you. After all that was over, Foch and his Generals rode to the Place Kleber. Troops formed a square about the statue. The band broke into the reckless, splendid " Sambre et Meuse." Then silence —deep silence. The Marshal took off his own sword and received from the hands of one of his Generals the sword of Kleber. He rode alone to the foot of the statue—unsheathed the sword— saluted—rode away.
How finely these French keep their sense of decor. History in the making —and so beautifully made. That slim, sad-eyed, triumphant figure on horseback, drawing a shining sword before the triumphant statue—I shall never forget it. No one who saw will forget. The great Foch.
PRESIDENT POINCARE'S VISIT "Le plebiscite est fait." The President of France on the balcony of the Hotel de Ville at Strasbourg the 9th of December so began his address. A small, hatless man, mild of face, meekly bearded, pink of cheek, in evening dress, he became abruptly a noble figure. His voice rang out finely, firmly. His eyes gratefully sought the field of faces stretching far beyond the limits of the long, deep Place Broglie. These faces met his with a turmoil of hurrahs. With an inspiration at a moment that deserves well of history, M. Poincare lucidly, triumphantly, made the phrase that was the keynote of Strasbourg's last fete, the welcome of the Government to the provinces regained.
The popular vote has been taken. Here was the answer to the German contention so long maintained that a popular vote would result in the decision of Alsace and Lorraine to remain under German rule. These exuberant crowds, joyfully unrestrained, yet under the stress of an emotion, profound, religious, I might almost say—one saw it in their eyes, in their faces, felt it in their hearts —these people, then, and air through that amazing beautiful day, were, if any people ever were, the pure exemplification of the Wilsonian doctrine that a people has the right to dispose of itself, governmentally, as it shall will.
A Frenchman, who stood beside me in that fine instant when Poincare clarioned his "Le plebiscite est fait" and Alsace responded, turned to me and in a voice moved and moving said: "Monsieur l'Americain, we have not taken Alsace and Lorraine. They have come to us!"
CLEMENCEAU THE TIGER The President of France stood bareheaded on the balcony and opened his arms, the arms of France, to the children of his country. Beside him M. Clemenceau, Clemenceau the tiger, a rugged, white-haired, stocky, high-colored old man, whose eyes gleam fire and fun and tears. What an old age for a man to have! At 80, hatless, on a bleak, raw day, to be cried to the skies; the man who brought his country from its wilderness to its Canaan. What amazing moments Destiny, too wont to be perverse, has given to this indomitable old man! It is a fine thing to "go down to the grave with a shout." And behind these two the three Marshals of France and Sir Douglas Haig, and General Pershing, an Italian General, a Belgian, Serbian officers, the men whose armies had made possible this moment.
The hours of Monday went by in a
reel of "Marseillaise" and "Sambre et Meuse " and cheers and tears and all the manifestations given to light hearts and sound, ardent faith. Streams of General-laden motor cars edged through masses of applauding people. Marshals, as a dry old poilu put it to me, were like leaves under one's feet. One fell into a kind of sublimated familiarity with the great and mighty, and were like to clap them on the shoulders in excess of enthusiasm. And then came the culmination of the festivity. Into an immense space set about with grandiose buildings, the citadel, there crowded themselves thousands and thousands; the roofs, the balconies, the windows-of these buildings were black with bodies and white with faces and waved handkerchiefs. In a canopied tribune stood the President and Clemenceau, tears in his eyes, (how they shouted "Vive le Tigre!") the Marshals, the Generals. The review of the troops began. Troops on foot, troops mounted, artillery, tanks, each element with its clang and crash of music. (Have you ever heard the scream and whine of the little Moroccan pipes? Next to the Scotch bagpipe, it is the most terrifying, delirious sound I know.) And when the last of the soldiers had passed, the men and women, the boys and girls, of Alsace followed.
No one, I think, who saw those groups pass the President's stand saw it unmoved, and no one having seen it will ever forget. They came, hundreds of young girls, in their national costume, and at the sense of the instant, its elation, its rich significance, coupled with the surge and rhythm of the bands gained on their hearts, their feet refused to march. They danced in garlands, in festoons, in circles, with young, gay, lovely, glowing movements. Their hands were full of flowers, and, laughing, they threw them at the President as they went dancing by. Some of them, bolder than the rest, made their way to the foot of the stand. He took their offered flowers and kissed them on the cheeks. I can see them so clearly now, those young girls dancing down a long curve between thick hedges of black bodies and radiant faces, tossed caps, waved handkerchiefs—the mothers of tomorrow's France.
Just in front of the stand were massed the Zouaves, in khaki with the red fez, looking through the gray air of the gray threatening day, like a distant field of poppies. One had in one's eyes the poppy-red and all the fantastic colors of the skirts, the blue and orange and red skirts, of the rich brocaded aprons, of the great Alsatian bows on the head, pink or green or black (ravens with pretty faces between wide wings) or a blend of many tints. They danced, and the tossing ribbons, the swing of skirts, the sheen of necks and cheeks, made them like flowers, a lovely dancing garden, row upon row of wandering blossoms. Among them were staid old men in remarkable top-hats and youths in white breeches and what I may best describe as coonskin caps, some afoot and some astride prancing horses; pastors and priests and Mayors of villages in red waistcoats and rows of brilliant buttons.
A wild, delirious band of lads cavorted by, their caps blossoming with flowers. They were conscripts freed from becoming part of the next German class. Their banners, their emblems, their devices touched one's heart, all of them souvenirs of France. Here's a group of old men in their regimentals and medals of 1870. The thing was so spontaneous, so simple, so ardent, and so amazingly, for all picturesqueness, so amazingly real. I found myself repeating over and over: "This can't be taught to people; it is in
their blood, in their hearts." An old French General who stood beside and heard the involuntary words smiled and nodded. He could not speak. There was a knot in his throat. His eyes were brimming. We were all caught in the spell of that emotional moment, all of us. For sheer beauty of body and spirit, I have never seen anything so lovely.
The last of them danced away—their headdresses were deep pink, and as they streamed beyond in a long serpentine curve they seemed a river of roses flowing seaward.
LE PLEBISCITE EST FAIT
And just across the river, spanned by the great Kehl Bridge, across the wide, full-breasted Rhine, almost at the cast of a stone from us, lay Germany. I crossed that bridge one day to the extreme permitted point, where stood the German sentries, and looked a long time at that land silent and abased. Strange contrast, Strasbourg all flags and fetes and wonders, Strasbourg freed; and just across the river within sound of our cheering, well-nigh, a nation despised, defeated, dishonored.
A lad of Strasbourg on the day of General Gouraud's entry, so his mother told me, went alone at the end of the great day to the cemetery. He found his grandfather's grave and placed on it a little cherished French flag. Stooping down, he whispered, " Grandpere, ils sont la!
Yes, they are there!
The Filipinos in the War
Francis Burton Harrison, Governor General of the Philippines, speaking at a banquet in New York on Feb. 11, 1919, said of the Filipinos:
"During the war this race of people was intensely and devotedly loyal to the cause of the United States. They raised a division of Filipino volunteers for Federal service; they presented a destroyer and submarine to the American Navy; they greatly oversubscribed their quota in the Liberty loans and gave generously to the aid of the Red Cross and other war work. All of this is a practical demonstration of high ideals of government. * * * The idea of training a tropical people for independence was thought too idealistic and impractical. Quite the contrary was the result. Once again idealism has been shown to be the moving force in working out the destinies of nations. If you can reach the heart of the people you can lift them forward and upward. That is what America has done in the Philippines."