United States Day
: Winning A Cause World War Stories
United States Day was celebrated in Paris on April 20, 1918.
On that day, exercises were held in the great hall of the Sorbonne; on
April 21, a reception was given the American ambassador, and a great
procession marched to the statue of Lafayette. The Stars and Stripes
flew from the Eiffel Tower and from the municipal buildings on both
At the exercises in the Sorbonne on April 20, M.
of the French Maritime League, ranked Wilson with Washington and
Washington, Lincoln, Wilson--these are immortal types of
the presidency of a democracy--men who, conscious of their
responsibilities, assume the duty of guiding the people at whose head
they have the honor to be placed, thus realizing the necessary harmony
in human affairs between the principle of authority and the principle
of liberty. Yes, history will assign to President Wilson a place among
the great statesmen of all time, for he has been able to make clear the
reasons why honor condemned neutrality and commanded war in order to
assure to humanity the blessing of peace.
Following the speech, the American and French flags were held aloft,
touching each other. Then a French poet, Jean Richepin, recited with
great emotion and telling effect, a poem he had composed for the
occasion, entitled, The Kiss of the Flags. Ambassador Sharp saluted
the great republic of France and her Allies.
In London, the American flag flew on April 20, 1918, where no flag
except the British flag had flown in all history, at the top of the
Victoria Tower over the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. A solemn
and beautiful service was held at St. Paul's Cathedral. The King and
Queen and England's greatest men and women attended.
These celebrations in Paris and London and elsewhere are of importance
to America, because they proved that the world was beginning to realize
that the people of the United States were more than money seekers
looking only for selfish gain, and therefore weak and unreliable. When
America entered the war, a leading German paper said,
We do not think that America's intervention will have an essential
effect on the results of the war. The Allies are going to have a
momentary advantage, but they will soon be aware that America is like a
stick that breaks when one wants to lean on it.
Another great German daily gave the following as America's reasons for
joining the Allies:--
First, the desire to have a place at the peace conference; second, the
wish to weaken or destroy the love of different peoples for their
native lands; third, the hope thereby to be able to increase her
military and naval equipment; and fourth, the desire to build up a
great American merchant fleet.
Because Germany saw in the United States only the love of power and of
the Almighty Dollar, she made the terrible mistake that brought about
her downfall. With the declaration of war with Germany on April 6,
1917, at least England and France saw the people of America more nearly
as they are, lovers and defenders of the highest ideals man has yet
felt and spoken. The American soldiers showed a little later at
Belleau Wood and in the Argonne forest, that they loved these ideals
enough to die for them.
The English writer, Hall Caine, described the celebration in London in
beautiful and graphic language:--
American Day in London was a great and memorable event. It was another
sentinel on the hilltop of time, another beacon fire in the history of
humanity. The two nations of Great Britain and America can never be
divided again. There has been a national marriage between them, which
only one judge can dissolve, and the name of that judge is Death. . . .
Two lessons, at least, must be learned from the service of Friday in
St. Paul's Cathedral. The first is that the accepted idea of the
American Nation as one that weighs and measures all conduct by material
values in dollars and cents, must henceforth be banished forever.
Thrice already in its short history has it put that hoary old slander
to shame, and now once again has it given the lie to it. The history
of nations has perhaps no parallel to the high humanity, the splendid
self-sacrifice, the complete disinterestedness that brought America
into this war, with nothing to gain and everything to lose. It has
broken forever with the triple monarchies of murder. To live at peace
with crime was to be the accomplice of the criminal. Therefore, in the
name of justice, of mercy, of religion, of human dignity, of all that
makes man's life worth living and distinguishes it from the life of the
brute, America, for all she is or ever can be, has drawn the sword and
thrown away the scabbard. God helping her, she could do no other.
The second of the lessons we have to learn from the services of Friday
is that, having made war in defense of the right, America will make
peace the moment the wrong has been righted. No national bargains will
weigh with her, no questions of territory, no problems of the balance
of power, no calculations of profit and loss, no ancient treaties, no
material covenants, no pledges that are the legacy of past European
conflicts. Has justice been done? Is the safety of civilization
assured? Has reparation been made, as far as reparation is possible,
for the outrages that have disgraced the name of man, and for the
sufferings that have knocked at the door of every heart in Christendom?
These will be her only questions. Let us take heart and hope from
them. They bring peace nearer.
It was not for nothing that the flags of Great Britain and America hung
side by side under the chancel arch on Friday morning. At one moment
the sun shot through the windows of the dome and lit them up with
heavenly radiance. Was it only the exaltation of the moment that made
us think invisible powers were giving us a sign that in the union of
the nations, which those emblems stood for, lay the surest hope of the
day when men will beat their swords into plowshares and know war no
more? The United States of Great Britain and America! God grant the
union celebrated in our old sanctuary may never be dissolved until that
great day has dawned.