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"The Song of the Seventy-Five"

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"The Song of The Seventy-Five" B Grantland Rice 2nd Lieut. 115th Artillery, A.E.F. A flash where the road is bare, A crash from the matted glen, From out of the woods a flare That flames through the dawn again. A crash that turns to a roar With the bark of a thousand guns; A flash that flames once more With the light of a hundred suns. And out of the trench's thrall, Set for the Zero date, The crouched line hears the call That leads to the grip with Fate. the call of the great barrage That keeps each hope alive: The bugle note to the charge, "The Song of the Seventy-Five." I shall bring back Peace with my shining sword," said the Kaiser in 1918. And even as he spoke, from the Marne to the Meuse, from the Champagne front to the Alsatian Hills that look down upon the Rhine, from Chateau-Thierry to Verdun and the gray depths of the Argonne, the Seventy-Five picked up the challenge. Peace has come back; but not brought back by that "shining sword." That sword is now sheathed and dull. But shining in the light of Peace stands the super-glory of the Seventy-Five, - the flaming super-glory of having helped to save a world, of having helped to bring back a civilized Peace. Modelled and built by the French to help keep the peace, adopted by the Americans to help restore peace, the Seventy-Five has barked its message of Liberty beneath Old Glory and the Tri-color, placing a steel barricade against Germany's pirate dream of an unholy peace. I have seen the Seventy-Fives by the open road-sides of France, disdainful of cover, speaking the language of outraged Freedom; and less than a hundred yards away, as well camouflaged as quails in a field of gray-brown stubble, using the same Yankee language with French accent. The song of the Seventy-Five overhead, - frequently as many as seven shells from one gun in the air at one time, was the sweetest song heard by the dough-boy waiting to go over the top in France. In all the history of powder-propelled steel, the Seventy-Give stands unequalled for heavy blows struck with a fearful bewildering rapidity. It was the peace propeller, - the peace compeller, - the morale maker, - the morale breaker of the war. Line after line of Infantry moved toward the front lines, toward No Man's Land, toward fields of barbed wire and showers of steel. But they did not move alone. As those dough-boys slogged along through rain-soaked roads toward the "jumping off" place of attack right along with them, or close behind with the speed of galloping horses, came the doughty, perky, saucy Seventy-Fives, their bodies striped in green and brown and black, quick-footed, heavy-hitting friends, helping to bring back Peace - a decent Peace - and the quiet sun of home. It was in the gray shadowy dawn as the Zero hour approached - the hour of attack - when the Infantry waited, crouched and cramped in the front lines, face to face wit Fate, that the first flame of this great gun was a Torch of Hope along the front, giving many a dough-boy another day to live, another night to dream of home. Timed to a second, came the first crash, the first shirr overhead,- then the mighty chorus of Seventy-Fives, delivering Freedom's message upon the enemy lines. This was the helpful, hopeful Song of the Seventy-Five, "Sweeter," as an Indian Sergeant expressed it, "Sweeter than "On the Banks of the Wabash,' even sweeter than 'Home, Sweet Home.' " From a certain small thicket in an American sector in France came the Song of the Seventy-Fives. Between shots was heard the musical intonation of a singing African artillery-man. A few steps revealed the full spectacle. As the negro pulled the lanyard that fired the gun, he crooned softly to himself, "Mister Kaiser, count yo' men!" Another pull on the lanyard: "Mister Kaiser, count 'em again!" And so on, between rounds, after each crash, the darkey chorus continued: "Mister Kaiser, count yo' men Mister Kaiser, count 'em agen!" - And that was the message the Seventy-Fives roared over the hills and through the valleys of France; a chant of Liberty and Freedom, Count on! - a challenge to the ruthless, Count on! - a call to repentance, Count on and on! The Song of the Seventy-five - Count on! Count men! Count your men! Aye, count ALL men. {Copyright 1919 By Snead & Co.)