March 23, 1918
YOURS is not a pleasure trip, a sightseeing excursion—you are sent to hard, manual labor. You will need strength of back, of muscle, of head, of heart—the quality we commonly call grit. But while all this is true—and I emphasize it—yet remember—always remember—that the whole of The Salvation Army—mind you, not a part, however important, but the whole of The Salvation Army—is its religion.” This was the final charge of the Commander as, seated at her desk with the young people in a semi-circle before her, she talked out of her heart to the group of thirteen young women, under the command of Commandant Howard Hinkle who were to form the latest party of The Salvation Army officers to sail for France. And the young women thought of it only as a most solemn and important event.
The Commander, with the care of a mother for the comfort and physical wellbeing of her officers, inquired particularly concerning the dress of young women—was it comfortable, warm enough, not too tight not too loose? Were the shoes broad enough to give the feet plenty of freedom and not too broad so as to cause blisters? Everything seemed to be satisfactory in these material respects, so the Commander turned to the mental and spiritual aspects and for twenty minutes spoke so earnestly, so wisely, so pointedly to the young women that they shall not soon lose the impressions which with the words and the spirit made.
She inquired as to their willingness to go to the hard labor and trying situations of the war zone; she said it was not too late to turn back. She did not minimize the hardships and the sacrifices which their appointment was certain to involve, but emphasized the fact that once in France the appointment could not be revoked except for very urgent reasons. While the Commander talked the eyes of the young people shone with the eager anticipation of service on the battle-lines; there was not “a shadow of turning” in one of them. Indeed, it could be easily seen that to have withdrawn any one of them from the expedition would have entailed real grief to that one.
Our leader emphasized the idea of opportunity for which thousands of the brightest and most capable young men and women in the land would give everything to possess. It was a great record to write in one’s life-history—that one has fought hand to hand with the forces of deterioration on the battle fields and just behind the lines. “The war will stop, but your life’s history will not, and during the coming months you will write things which shall be of eternal value to yourselves,” she said.
She spoke also of personal influence. “You must have it said of you, when you return, that you carried yourself as a true soldier of Jesus Christ. Live the life. Have before you in all your work the Blood-stained Cross of Calvary!” she pleaded. Don’t let men get away from the holy influence of your life. Preach the Cross, fight for it, and go, in everything you lay your hand or heart to, for the deep souls of men!”
The Commander also touched upon the use of money. They were not really promised even their expenses. They would probably never want anything they need, but they were not of those that labored for material advantage; their service is of that kind which, if it is to be effectual, must be performed out of love. Such compensation as they received they must be careful to use wisely, and they must follow the primitive and true spirit of Salvationism—that of abstemiousness.
Our leader was highly gratified, she said, with the impression which the members of the former parties had made upon their fellow passengers on the voyage “across.” She had heard most excellent reports and this party must maintain the standards set. Finally, this thought must be perpetually with each one: “I must hold onto myself by constant prayer and faith, so that I may be continual help to the boys who are facing death.”
Now the men in the office are dismissed and the Commander speaks to the young women a few words of earnest, uplift in prayer.
We are sure that the influence of this little gathering will be felt when members of it have in their ears the detonations of their guns and the moans of the wounded.
WAR SERVICE LEAGUE NOTES
REINFORCEMENTS FOR FRANCE
Again they are gathering. Every little while we see a fresh crop of khaki-clad Salvationists about Headquarters, and then they disappear—sort of melt out of sight. Thus it is our parties for “service overseas” are gathered from far and near. First they see the tailor, then the photographer, and then, in turn, they visit the Passport Bureau, the Customs, the French Consul. Of course there is shopping which anyone has to do when they are going anywhere—much more when they are going over to the war zone. After days of fitting and outfitting, “the party” is ready; then, no doubt, word will be received that the boat is not ready. More waits! At last someone gets the word and there is a crowded elevator, bound for the seventh floor, where the now ready party is in their “overseas uniforms” are taken to the Commander’s office for their final inspection and instructions—and melt out of sight! No blare of trumpets, no farewells at the boat—nothing like that in war-times—but their going to such noble work is none the less appreciated by their comrades who stay here to work behind the scenes in the big building on West Fourteenth Street. Again they have gathered and again they have gone. In a few days another big party will be gathering. There are now 778 stars in our service flag, which represents the Salvationists of the entire country who are serving beneath the Stars and Stripes.
Two truck-loads of soldiers on their way to a certain camp stopped in front of our Industrial Home at Hackensack, the other day (there had been a breakdown to the truck). While the repairs were being made, the soldier boys sang Army songs, which brought Adjutant Polhemus to his door. Some of the boys recognized him, for he had taken part in one of the recent meetings at the camp. We believe it would be a hard thing to find one hundred American soldiers of any regiment without finding in that number some who had been in contact with The Army.
LIEUT.-CHAPLAIN ALLAN tells us of splendid meetings he is having with the men of his battalion at Camp Upton. Several boys have told him they were once either in The Salvation Army or have relatives who are soldiers. “It’s a small world!”