Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 174

SERVICE AND THRIFT
OUR NOBLE DEFENDERS by CARDINAL MERCIER

My dearest Brethren : I desire to utter, in your name and my own, the gratitude of those whose age, vocation, and social conditions cause them to benefit by the heroism of others, without bearing in it any active part.
When, immediately on my return from Rome, I went to Havre to greet our Belgian, French, and English woundedwhen, later, at Malines, at Louvain, at Antwerp, it was given to me to take the hands of those brave men who carried a bullet in their flesh, a wound on their forehead, because they had marched to the attack of the enemy, or borne the shock of his onslaught, it was a word of gratitude to them that rose to my lips. "O valiant friends," I said, "it was for us, it was for each one of us, it was for me, that you risked your lives and are now in pain. I am moved to tell you of my respect, of my thankfulness, to assure you that the whole nation knows how much she is in debt to you."
For in truth our soldiers are our saviors.
A first time, at Liege, they saved France; a second time, in Flanders, they arrested the advance of the enemy upon Calais. France and England know it; and Belgium stands before them both, and before the entire world, as a nation of heroes. Never before in my whole life did I feel so proud to be a Belgian as when, on the platforms of French stations, and halting awhile in Paris, and visiting London, I was witness of the enthusiastic admiration our allies feel for the heroism of our army. Our King is, in the esteem of all, at the very summit of the moral scale; he is doubtless the

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