5. Paris and a Commission, July 15th, 1918
My own Dear Parents,
Just a few lines to let you know how busy I have been the last two weeks and maybe account for the reason I could not get off my weekly letter home. I wrote a short note on the 29th of June letting you know we had gone forward" again for a few days. We went up to the front line shortly after to relieve some of the boys who had made a brilliant attack that had pretty well tired them out. Strenuous work this fighting, believe me. You have no doubt read by this time of the glorious 4th in Paris. Well I was fortunate enough to be one of the fifteen who represented my company in the wonderful fete that was given in our honor in a way that Parisians alone can celebrate. At an hour's notice we slipped out of the line [&] hurried back to the transportation base; were rushed back to within a mile of the railhead in motor trucks and camped down till daylight had hardly conquered darkness. We camped right on a river bank and everyone had to jump in for a swim. And believe me there was no urging, our pores more than "longed" for the water.
Mother dear, may no son of mine, if ever I am so blessed as to come through this war and have a home of my own, ever have to lay awake when he is dying for a wink of sleep, in a little rifle pit that his feverish hands have dug with the bullets whizzing around him, and suffer agonies of torture with his whole body bit red by the little devils of torment that we fondly term as "seam squirrels." They are popularly known as "cooties," the little pests, and believe me if ever a Unitarian wishes to bring himself into a position where be can actually be in hell on earth refer him to me. These little lice are the pests on the Front. Well after a swim in the soothing waters of the ______ River we were issued some articles of clothing that we needed and after a little good warm nourishment our detachment moved down to the railhead among much flag waving, "Vive l'Amerique"-ing, and flying kisses from the side walk. There we entrained for "Gay Paree." An American Band met us at the Station under the shadow of the "Tour Eiffel" and with colors flying and band playing we marched through a cheering populace to our billets way out beyond the Bois de Boulogne near the Longchamps Race Course. Next morning we paraded. Oh what an ovation the people gave us! It made a man feel that it was worth going through all the privations and hardships of the battle we had gone through. We had checked and turned the advancing Hun at a Crucial Point and at a critical time-and Paris, France, the World-was showing gratitude and giving thanks. Under helmets on which the grime and muck of the line were all too evident to make "parade-ground" soldiers our category, we just hiked through the rose-strewn boulevards and Places proud we were Americans-sorry for the boys up there who could not get the glory of it all but only a reflection. More than once I was hailed from the throng by some man. . .his arm now only half its former length. Maybe the bandage still on his head.
Mother and Father that day I turned American as never before. Prior to then my sympathies were still British. The old Union Jack lost some its glamour though no respect; and for the first time I believe I turned truly American, Yankee and claimed the land of your birth as mine in a peculiar way. I pulled in my chin and threw my chest out till it must have been noticeable to onlookers but I didn't care. I received a baptism of patriotism. It will be hard to share it with India. Of course there will be that inner tug and thank God for it -- for it's a Bonnie, Bonnie land is my homeland. Dear old India how I'd love to be there sometimes but Duty calls and holds us all here till this righteous business of ridding this fair land of the Heinie pest is completed. And God grant that it may be soon. We returned to the line next morning, and it sure was a joy to tell the boys in the section how the world had received us who represented them. We are in back area again where the "Big, Big-Boys [artillery] Break up towns and bridges or rather that is what they try to do.
In April I was a corporal in charge of 4 liaison agents I read and studied and worked out a theoretical practical system flexible enough for any kind of warfare. In May I was made a sergeant and was put in charge of battalion liaison. There I put my plan into practice and the Major commended me for my work. Ever since then I have been doing well in the various duties to which I have been assigned, that is I think I have been achieving something. . .
Well to make a long story short July the 15th, 15 months after pledging my services as an enlisted man, to the country at Cleveland, 0hio, I was honorably discharged from the service and yesterday the Independence day of France I was enrolled and sworn into the service again, as a second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve....