Speaker 1:

One January morning, a strange right awakens MacArthur, [inaudible], Marshall Patton, and Hemingway. Further up in the East the Lorraine mist wakes up 80,000 drowsy eyes. From 1917 to 1919, 2 million young Americans come to European frontlines to fight. An army soon forgotten. This is a tribute to those who at the age of 20, crossed the ocean from the new world to the old. A two-year research leads us to meet one of them, Tom. A Doughboy from Boston. (singing)

 

Speaker 2:

Tom doesn't unburden his heart anymore but sometimes he does in snatches of conversation when he has had too much to drink. It's while having a drink that he tells about September of 1917 in Bordeaux in the southwest of France. Frightened by the crowd, arms too tired from greetings, he handed his weapon to the father of a young girl dressed in white on the dock. (singing)

 

 

The preacher didn't lie. Europe looks like a new world to be discovered. With her arms reaching out, one could hear her saying, "Welcome. Kiss and welcome." Kiss as he tried to explain this in a letter to his mother that very night.

 

Speaker 1:

From the second naval base Tom writes. "Dear mother, in Bordeaux we thought who we were Pershing's children." General Pershing, head of the expeditionary American Corps land with 100 men on the 13th of June 1917 in the port of Boulogne. 10:15 in the morning, he sits for some photos, answering some questions.

 

 

"Do you speak French?" "With all those beautiful ladies around I will soon be speaking French." A grandson of an [inaudible], Pershing with his flat hat and [inaudible] puts a spell into France of 1917. The three-year war without them is forgotten as well as those newspaper articles. France sheds blood, America reaps gold.

 

 

Some hours later, on that day, Paris is grateful to the American commitment. Pershing is attributed a commanding officer's pennant at the main courtyard of the [Arts et Metiers] in Paris. Today, at the same place on the second floor of the Arts et Metiers Museum, nothing is left of the 1917 soldiers but a mannequin, three paintings, and a scale model. On the colossal stairs lies a tank almost forgotten by time, reminding us that it was steel, gold or men, lots of men that France was waiting for.

 

Speaker 2:

Tom didn't have time to send his letter. The dog, pearl white, and the regiment left the harbour to go to [inaudible] in the centre of France. While in Boston, Tom didn't like English people. The bandmaster was German. [inaudible], why did Tom come here?

 

 

In 1915, Tom is appalled at the sight of the 128th Lusitanian-Americans drowned by a German submarine. Propaganda does all the rest. Chosen by chance or by divinity, Tom enlisted to fight the barbarians. He went to war as one goes on a crusade.

 

Speaker 1:

The American government has to face its citizens with their real enemy, the English. They must forget the sacred sword of Lafayette. On the 4th of July 1917, Lafayette's grave in Paris serves as a platform for Pershing. In the crowd, not one French journalist could understand English. Gaston Leroux, the practical joker dropped back to the office and made up a headline. Lafayette, here we are. Armed with its first legend, America enters the countries at war.

 

 

Since 1916, German generals have been offering to train the American army to shoot at real soldiers, not at funfair ducks. In 1916, just after a hasty breakfast, Pancho Villa, the Mexican, insults the American army badly. All these cow hats, tights uniforms, mules, old-fashioned cannons, which were making the Germans laugh worry the Allied generals. Pershing quits the Mexican bandit to attack the German emperor. He's got a simple plan, the Allied armies should stand up to the enemy and dominate the front.

 

 

The young and new American army should take over Berlin, neutralised the Reich, celebrate democracy and victory. Then, retire to America. Under the remains of the Ministry of War, the Allied strategists tell Pershing that he should not trust newspapers. It's been three years since the beginning of the war. Since 1914, the front has scarcely moved. Reims might be taken over. Verdun has been miraculously saved from wreckage.

 

 

The new armaments have yet to prove their new role. Anyway, the enemy gets stuck in serious questions. The American army should be divided into many troops in different places. Pershing refuses, even though his men are not experienced, he doesn't want to give them up to the Allies. From behind the windows of the Ministry of War, he defies Clemenceau. He wants his men to be independent and they will show they are worthy and strong enough.

 

Speaker 2:

Tom drove us to the zoo at [inaudible] Camp. We wanted to see the traces of war. He said, "Here I lived it as you have dreamt of it because fighting was only in our minds. Here, all was feverish because France was at war but the fighting was far away. We had to watch out for our food, otherwise, it might be stolen. We had to accept those who came with their families to watch us as if we were animals in a zoo.

 

 

They came to watch the American, the strange beast who drinks coffee with cream at lunch, a strange animal too neat and too polite to be a good soldier, so strange an animal that one doesn't know what to call it. Sammy, Sam, [inaudible], Doughboy, a nice guy who offers chewing gum and candy bars to children, even though he might shock men and women as he washes himself in front of everybody."

 

Speaker 1:

Wearing new helmets and holding no guns in a modern war is like being stripped to the waist. In three years, artilleries have become the queen of the battles. France provides the Americans with its 75. The 75 is more than just a cannon. It's a symbol. It represents Frances force. It is France at war. The first American shell shot in November 1917, hit the headlines.

 

 

With no sense of irony, the English, proposed their helmets. Many soldiers already wear French helmets. At the end of 1917, an Allied selection of materials equips the American soldiers. Among all belligerents, they are the most well equipped. 17 tonnes of material per soldier, among which a Bible, can of food, a roll of toilet paper, a new American invention then unknown in Europe.

 

 

A razor with disposable razor blades, chewing gum, a lawn mower, the American crusade is on. These Crusaders now have to be taught how to use machine guns, cannons, and grenades.

 

Speaker 2:

I spent three weeks with Tom. He sometimes acted like a coy girl in not wanting to tell his age. He would only say, "I was not even three, then I was five months old. Five months of war." He came to chase barbarians, fight, attack, hit. He crossed the ocean to beat up some Huns and killed 10 of them. For three months, the English and the French will teach him how to lay down, crouch, and hide.

 

 

Tom didn't call that fighting. We fight the devil with fists and guns, looking him straight in the eye. We taught Tom how to use a machine gun and throw a grenade.

 

Speaker 1:

Three years of war have trained the instructors well. War is not child's play. They seemed very proud because they know that war is not like hunting. Combat is a living event, not something you talk about. War is never a dream. When you do it, it hangs on to your dreams, your nights, your life.

 

 

The American soldier's mind is centred mainly upon speed. He is represented as one with big paces. When he's drawn on a painting, a fist is seen where a head should be. He's up on his feet shooting. With a Bible in their pocket, American soldiers conceive of war in a three-fold manner; the evil forces are the Germans; the good are the Allies. As for them, the Americans, they represent a moral force, one which was then missing, made up of democracy, liberty, and youth.

 

Speaker 2:

In October 1917, in New York, we were all supporting those who were at last sent to the front. Up front, not too dangerous, next to [inaudible] in the northeast of France. They didn't know what to do with their hands. We wanted them to use their fists.

 

Speaker 1:

Head of the list, Tracy James, Hay, and Gresham. Over 2000 Americans, men and women, have been either killed or wounded even before the first combats began. Pershing confesses, "Our zeal stands higher than our force."

 

Speaker 2:

The flag service decorates the New York saloons. A blue star stands for each boy who goes to war. Blue represents the living. Golden, the dead. End of 1917, New York becomes a constellation. When I told Tom, I was sure to be fighting in New York, he smiled.

 

 

In New York, students were given arms. Just as in 1886, we were living a red scare, a great fear of reds. An ammunition dump, a train station, and a few terrorists were enough to make Wilson's government impose an espionage law, which put an end to the pacifist debates.

 

 

In Chicago, 101 [inaudible] were condemned because they had delivered speeches publicly. In Boston, the German bandmaster was arrested. [inaudible], the Socialists was put in prison for 10 years because of a speech. Fifth Avenue, recruits parade.

 

Speaker 1:

Censorship permits the American government to land hundreds of thousands of men and millions of tonnes of material in Italy and France. In the month of May 1918, the American soldiers hardly shaped when Pershing offers it to the Allies. In three months, the Germans are spread over 6224 square kilometres. They attacked by [inaudible] and [Douaumont].

 

 

Foch, chief leader of the Allies can't afford to lose any more men. Being in a difficult position he contacts Pershing. Half an hour later, Foch is back at the headquarters. Pershing gives him the American troops so that he can place them anywhere he wants to on the frontline.

 

Speaker 2:

One shouldn't have dreamt of war. Near Chateau-Thierry, Tom will finally tear the barbarians to pieces. In Belleau, it will take 20 days to regain the woods. 20 days, if you run, you run into a dead end. One must lay down to avoid falling. One must sleep in a grave like bed to avoid getting buried six feet under. Tom no longer sketches men upright and in motion, he draws them bent over, not moving.

 

Speaker 1:

In August 1918, after the American success in [inaudible] Foch phones Pershing to tell him that he is sending back the troops and proposes a sector, [Samoens], not far from Belleau in the northeast of France. Americans in Samoens [inaudible] near Verdun in Douaumont with barbed wire fences, a forest of fences to cross. General [Petain] gently warned his colleague. Pershing smiles, "Fences, a minor problem."

 

 

Worried, Petain sends a spy who stunned not to see Americans crawling under fences but casting boards, sticks, and wire meshes to walk on them. It was easy enough to be figured out. Pershing wants his victory. He's been dreaming of it since 1917. He uses all his material and men to get it. Only one enemy can hinder him, logistic problems.

 

Speaker 2:

I asked Tom to visit Samoens and follow the paths of 3000 cannons, 270 tanks and 600 planes. He shook his head, half closed his eyes and said, "But you don't seem to understand, there's nothing left to be seen in Samoens, nothing but the memory of his friends." (singing)

 

Speaker 1:

The Americans get hold of Samoens in 3 days and makes 16,000 prisoners. "Merci," says President Poincare to Pershing. "Thank you for liberating my home in Sampigny." He sweeps a tear off his cheek at the sight of the ruins. That's war. Now, the French president is back to work. A week later, Pershing has 1,200,000 Americans between the Meuse and the Argonne. These Heights will be the cause of 10,000 deaths in 3 days. The Argonne is not Samoens.

 

Speaker 2:

You run, you do not think, your friend falls down. Run, fear, watch your breath, run, kill, shoot, powder, kill, yell, shoot, kill. You have become the barbarian you thought you were fighting. It's just after the battle that you can open the Bible. You read thou shalt not kill. 11th of November 1918, Tom is no longer a crusader. He has become a fighter.

 

Speaker 1:

The kitchen police holds the former's days charm. The American army is now self-assured being modern and well-equipped. The war is over. In Paris, during the victory ceremony, the Allies thank and applause the army. This war has made the United States the first and greatest power in the world.

 

 

War in Europe has permitted the Americans to forget the problem of separation between the northern and southern states. Wilson, the first American president from the south has won the war. Pershing, at the head of the parade, knows the bitter taste of the paradox; victory and forgetting. These two million people will stir the memory more than those two other millions who came from India to fight in France.

 

 

Hindus are revered in India, just as heroes should be. The American veterans, on the other hand, are readily forgotten. They are spoken of as the lost generation in the United States.

 

Speaker 2:

Tom, for $300, food and lodging not included, met us in Paris. End of October 1919, he showed us the battlefields. Like a million other Americans, I signed up two years earlier in an agency in New York to visit France. Tom showed us what they did. On questions asked about heroes, he answered, Gouraud.

 

Speaker 1:

General Gouraud is a war logo for those Americans interested in the conflict. In 1918, his army participates in the Battle of the Argonne. In April 1917, he defends France. In the States, the bombarded Cathedral of France becomes a symbol of the German barbarism. After the war, the states participate in the restoration of the edifice. Everyone in France remembers the principal sponsor.

 

Speaker 2:

Men were forgotten in New York on victory celebration day. Liberty won because she was the one who had fought. Liberty had pointed her finger, had raised the sword. She made herself a man. Real fighters, like Tom, imagined her more feminine. Alone, far from their families and country, they wanted her to hold out her arms and be wife and mother.

 

Speaker 1:

The Missouri Monument. The monument of battles in Samoens. Monument of Romagnes. Varennes en Argonne, when the Americans were there. Merci.

 

Speaker 2:

Tom blames the Boston creature who forgot to say that fire did not purify. Tom had come to rebuild the old world. This fire that crackles when we liberate a village across the street in ruins. These ruins, this silence, this emptiness.

 

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]. Romagnes. In Romagnes [inaudible], the ruins of the village become a monument in themselves. They evoke the Hindenburg frontline and the 78 successive German divisions launched against the American army. They evoke hidden bunkers that the Americans will discover a bit too late under the village. Here, the young Patton enters into the legend as he goes out of his broken tank with guns in his hands.

 

Speaker 2:

McArthur and Patton are military men in their souls, heroes. Tom had embraced war too much to be able to forget it. Accompanied by his nightmares, he gives tours of the battlefields.

 

Speaker 1:

To help rebuild things, different departments have transformed tourism into a kind of sponsorship. When Tom tracks a sponsor, man or woman, he asked for a percentage. The Duke of Windsor sponsors Verdun. Ms. Skinner, an ambulance driver just like Walt Disney, offers a village to the Meuse Department, Hattonchatel.

 

 

With the help of American architects, she rebuilds a part of the old world. A world belonging more to the past with its gargoyles, town hall and castle. Here, we wait for a fairy to come, a prince charming, a Cinderella lost in silk, a witch offering an apple, a cavalier fairer than the day. It's smooth and just a village. It's a gothic ornament that she rebuilds in the middle of a rural and austere region.

 

 

In the lower part of Vigneulles, she builds towers and pepper boxes in the memory over her son. In Thiaucourt, [inaudible] Ms. Cunningham pays the same homage. The common point of these gifts is symbolic, the bell, in Vigneulles, in Thiaucourt, it was the bell of Liberty from Philadelphia which is bought. The very same bell who supported the propaganda during the war. Ms. Van Buren from New York offers the great bell of the Ossuaire of Douaumont.

 

Speaker 2:

Forgotten, the war of cannons, overnight with the end of the war, the Germans are no longer considered barbarians. Tom cannot understand this.

 

Speaker 1:

Before going back to the states some more medals where to be attributed by Clemenceau. Soldiers will mark out the front as they mark their passage by blocks of concrete. Not to mention those of the Sixth Division. The same goes for the Fifth Division.

 

 

As to fight against forgetting, soldiers build useful monuments. The rhythm of footsteps over the Dun Bridge chants the names of those friends who died there. Each pace is a reference to a golden star. Every celebration in Nantillois commemorates those of the 315th Division. A hospice is built in Montfavcon in memory of those who were 20. Every sip from the fountains of Pont a Mousson or Seicheprey brings up memories about friends who remained there.

 

 

Clothes from the [inaudible] house smell of those who cross the ocean to shed their blood.

 

Speaker 2:

I left Tom and France, took the boat, we crossed the ocean, arrived in New York. My America had in 1919, a third of the world's gold stock. .It took first place in the machinery industry from Germany. It also took first place in the cinematography industry from England and France. These soldiers had to cross the ocean and never look back at the risk of turning to statues of salt.

 

Speaker 1:

Washington 1931, Officer MacArthur veteran gives orders to shoot at a gathering of unemployed former soldiers, one dead. Concrete statues like salt statues vanish with time. Pershing will be a leader of an army of a hundred thousand souls. A long time after the war has finished, he meets Foch in his house in Thiaucourt in front of the cemetery. The graveyard of past memories.

 

 

A long time after the war, he inaugurates the biggest American Cemetery in Europe in Romagnes. The graveyard of heroes. In Romagnes, Pershing builds a house in front of the graves. A long time after the war at the Suresnes Cemetery, Pershing raises a floor of his house so that his men can contemplate Paris. Like many Americans, he is haunted by the dead and their memories. In order not to forget the dead, a reference to a biblical symbol is made. The Tree of Life taking its force from the humours of corpses.

 

 

The ammunition boxes are turned into nail boxes. Powerful America imposes its colonnade style on the reconstruction of Reims, Apremont, Vigneulles. Beginning of the 1930s, the last big monuments are built. Sufferance is over. Life is back again. Tom, whom we thought to have met has disappeared. He and his eyes. Only monuments restored by the youngest in 1944 will get over 21st Century. (singing)

 

 

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